\n') newwin.document.write('\n') newwin.document.write(' \n') newwin.document.write(str) newwin.document.write('\n') newwin.document.write('
\n') newwin.document.close() } //-->
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print Table of Contents 1432 OG 285|
|November 29, 2016||Volume 1432||Number 5|
|Patent and Trademark Office Notices||Page|
|• Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Information||1432 OG 286|
|• Notice of Maintenance Fees Payable||1432 OG 291|
|• Notice of Expiration of Patents Due to Failure to Pay Maintenance Fee||1432 OG 292|
|• Patents Reinstated Due to the Acceptance of a Late Maintenance Fee from 10/31/2016||1432 OG 325|
|• Reissue Applications Filed||1432 OG 326|
|• Requests for Ex Parte Reexamination Filed||1432 OG 328|
|• Notice of Expiration of Trademark Registrations Due to Failure to Renew||1432 OG 329|
|• Service by Publication||1432 OG 335|
|• Patent Public Advisory Committee Annual Report 2016||1432 OG 337|
|• Trademark Public Advisory Committee Annual Report 2016||1432 OG 338|
|• Errata||1432 OG 339|
|• Certificates of Correction||1432 OG 345|
|• AIA Trial Proceedings Filed before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board||1432 OG 348|
|• Summary of Final Decisions Issued by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board||1432 OG 349|
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 286|
|Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Information|
Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) Information For information concerning PCT member countries, see the notice appearing in the Official Gazette at 1393 O.G. 61, on August 13, 2013. For information on subject matter under Rule 39 that a particular International Searching Authority will not search, see Annex D of the PCT Applicants' Guide. European Patent Office as Searching and Examining Authority The European Patent Office (EPO) may act as the International Searching Authority (ISA) or the International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) for an international application filed with the United States Receiving Office or the International Bureau (IB) as Receiving Office where at least one of the applicants is either a national or resident of the United States of America. The EPO, effective January 1, 2015, no longer has any limitations concerning its competency to act as an ISA. The announcement appears in the Official Gazette at 1412 O.G. 61 on March 10, 2015. Previously, the EPO would not act as an ISA and would not carry out an international search for any application which contained one or more claims relating to the field of business methods. As of January 1, 2015, U.S. applicants filing their international applications with the USPTO or the IB as receiving Office may select the EPO to act as the ISA without restrictions. In applications containing claims relating to business methods where the subject matter of the application also contains technical features, the EPO will perform a search for those parts of the application which are more than mere business methods. However, the EPO will issue a declaration under PCT Rule 17(2)(a) that no ISR will be established whenever an application relates only to a business method as such. The EPO will act as an IPEA only if it also acted as the ISA. The search fee of the European Patent Office was changed, effective January 1, 2016, and was announced in the Official Gazette at 1421 O.G. 246, on December 29, 2015. Korean Intellectual Property Office as Searching and Examining Authority The Korean Intellectual Property Office may act as the ISA or the IPEA for an international application filed with the United States Receiving Office or the International Bureau (IB) as Receiving Office where at least one of the applicants is either a national or resident of the United States of America. The announcement appears in the Official Gazette at 1302 O.G. 1261 on January 17, 2006. The search fee of the Korean Intellectual Property Office was changed, effective January 1, 2016, and was announced in the Official Gazette at 1421 O.G. 246, on December 29, 2015. Australian Patent Office as Searching and Examining Authority The Australian Patent Office (IP Australia) may act as the ISA or the IPEA for an international application filed with the United States Receiving Office or the International Bureau (IB) as Receiving Office where at least one of the applicants is either a national or resident of the United States of America. The announcement appears in the Official Gazette at 1337 O.G. 265, on December 23, 2008. However, the use of IP Australia is restricted. IP Australia will not act as an ISA if it has received more than 250 international applications from the USPTO during a fiscal quarter, as indicated in the Official Gazette at 1409 O.G. 302 on December 30, 2014. IP Australia will act as an IPEA only if it also acted as the ISA. The search fee of IP Australia was changed, effective January 1, 2016, and was announced in the Official Gazette at 1421 O.G. 246, on December 29, 2015.
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 287|
The Federal Service on Intellectual Property, Patents & Trademarks of Russia as Searching and Examining Authority The Federal Service on Intellectual Property, Patents & Trademarks of Russia (Rospatent) may act as the ISA or the IPEA for an international application filed with the United States Receiving Office or the International Bureau (IB) as Receiving Office where at least one of the applicants is either a national or resident of the United States of America. The announcement appears in the Official Gazette at 1378 O.G. 162, on May 8, 2012. The search fee of Rospatent was changed, effective April 1, 2016, and was announced in the Official Gazette at 1424 O.G. 249 on March 29, 2016. Israel Patent Office as Searching and Examining Authority The Israel Patent Office (ILPO) may act as the ISA or the IPEA for an international application filed with the United States Receiving Office or the International Bureau (IB) as Receiving Office where at least one of the applicants is either a national or resident of the United States of America. The announcement appears in the Official Gazette at 1408 O.G. 52, on November 4, 2014. However, the use of the ILPO is restricted. The ILPO will not act as an ISA for applications with one or more claims relating to a business method as defined by certain International Patent Classification classes nor will the ILPO act as an ISA where it has received more than 75 international applications from the USPTO during a fiscal quarter, as indicated in the Official Gazette at 1408 O.G. 52 on November 4, 2014. For the definition of what the ILPO considers to be precluded subject matter in the field of business methods, see Annex B of the Agreement between the Israel Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov/patents/law/notices/ilpo_isa-ipea.pdf). The ILPO will act as an IPEA only if it also acted as the ISA. The search fee of ILPO was changed, effective March 1, 2016, and was announced in the Official Gazette at 1424 O.G. 179 on March 22, 2016. Japan Patent Office as Searching and Examining Authority The Japan Patent Office (JPO) may act as the ISA or the IPEA for an international application filed with the United States Receiving Office or the International Bureau (IB) as Receiving Office where at least one of the applicants is either a national or resident of the United States of America. The announcement appears in the Official Gazette at 1417 O.G. 63, on August 4, 2015. However, the use of the JPO is restricted. The JPO will act as an ISA for applications only where the claims of the application are directed to the field of green technology as defined by certain International Patent Classification classes and where the JPO has not received more than 5,000 international applications from the USPTO during the 3 year period from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2018, and not more than 300 applications per quarter during the first year, and not more than 475 application per quarter during the second and third years, as indicated in the Official Gazette at 1417 O.G. 63 on August 4, 2015. For the definition of what the JPO considers to be the field of green technology, see Annex A of the Agreement between the Japan Patent Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office at 1417 O.G. 67, August 4, 2015. The JPO will act as an IPEA only if it also acted as the ISA. The search fee of the JPO was changed, effective April 1, 2016, and was announced in the Official Gazette at 1424 O.G. 249 on March 29, 2016. Intellectual Property Office of Singapore as Searching and Examining Authority The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) may act as the ISA
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 288|
or the IPEA for an international application filed with the United States Receiving Office or the International Bureau (IB) as Receiving Office where at least one of the applicants is either a national or resident of the United States of America. The announcement appears in the Official Gazette at 1425 O.G. 190 on April 19, 2016. The IPOS will act as an IPEA only if it also acted as the ISA. The search fee of the IPOS was announced in the Official Gazette at 1425 O.G. 190 on April 19, 2016. Fees The transmittal fee for the USPTO was changed to include a basic portion and a non-electronic filing fee portion, effective November 15, 2011, and was announced in the Federal Register on November 15, 2011. Search fees for the USPTO were changed, effective January 12, 2009, and were announced in the Federal Register on November 12, 2008. The fee for filing a request for the restoration of the right of priority was established, effective November 9, 2007, and was announced in the Federal Register on September 10, 2007. International filing fees were changed, effective January 1, 2016, and were announced in the Official Gazette at 1421 O.G. 246 on December 29, 2015. The elimination of the discount for filing the international application in paper with a PCT EASY zip file was announced in the Official Gazette at 1419 O.G. 128 on October 20, 2015. The schedule of PCT fees (in U.S. dollars), as of April 1, 2016, is as follows: International Application (PCT Chapter I) fees: Transmittal fee Basic Portion - Fee $240.00 - Small Entity Fee $120.00 - Micro Entity Fee $60.00 Non-electronic filing fee portion for International applications (other than plant applications) filed on or after 15 November 2011 other than by the Office electronic filing system - Fee $400.00 - Small Entity Fee $200.00 - Micro Entity Fee $200.00 Search fee U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as International Searching Authority (ISA) - Search fee - Fee $2,080.00 - Small Entity Fee $1,040.00 - Micro Entity Fee $520.00 - Supplemental search fee, per additional invention (payable only upon invitation) - Fee $2,080.00 - Small Entity Fee $1,040.00 - Micro Entity Fee $520.00 European Patent Office as ISA - Fee $2,097.00 - Small Entity Fee $2,097.00 - Micro Entity Fee $2,097.00 Korean Intellectual Property Office as ISA - Fee $1,120.00 - Small Entity Fee $1,120.00
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 289|
- Micro Entity Fee $1,120.00 IP Australia as ISA - Fee $1,560.00 - Small Entity Fee $1,560.00 - Micro Entity Fee $1,560.00 Federal Service on Intellectual Property, Patents & Trademarks of Russia (Rospatent) as ISA - Fee $388.00 - Small Entity Fee $388.00 - Micro Entity Fee $388.00 Israel Patent Office - Fee $912.00 - Small Entity Fee $912.00 - Micro Entity Fee $912.00 Japan Patent Office -Fee $1,295.00 -Small Entity Fee $1,295.00 -Micro Entity Fee $1,295.00 Intellectual Property Office of Singapore -Fee $1,578.00 -Small Entity Fee $1,578.00 -Micro Entity Fee $1,578.00 International Fees International filing fee - Fee $1,363.00 - Small Entity Fee $1,363.00 - Micro Entity Fee $1,363.00 International filing fee-filed electronically without PCT-EASY zip file - Fee $1,261.00 - Small Entity Fee $1,261.00 - Micro Entity Fee $1,261.00 International filing fee-filed electronically with PCT EASY zip files - Fee $1,158.00 - Small Entity Fee $1,158.00 - Micro Entity Fee $1.158.00 Supplemental fee for each page over 30 - Fee $15.00 - Small Entity Fee $15.00 - Micro Entity Fee $15.00 Restoration of Priority Filing a request for the restoration of the right of priority under § 1.452 - Fee $1,700.00 - Small Entity Fee $850.00 - Micro Entity Fee $850.00 International Application (PCT Chapter II) fees associated with filing a Demand for Preliminary Examination Handling fee - Fee $205.00 - Small Entity Fee $205.00 - Micro Entity Fee $205.00 Handling fee-90% reduction, if Applicants meet criteria specified at http://www.wipo.int/pct/en/fees/fee_reduction.pdf - Fee $20.50 - Small Entity Fee $20.50 - Micro Entity Fee $20.50
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 290|
Preliminary examination fee USPTO as International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) - USPTO was ISA in PCT Chapter I - Fee $600.00 - Small Entity Fee $300.00 - Micro Entity Fee $150.00 - USPTO was not ISA in PCT Chapter I - Fee $760.00 - Small Entity Fee $380.00 - Micro Entity Fee $190.00 - Additional preliminary examination fee, per additional invention (payable only upon invitation) - Fee $600.00 - Small Entity Fee $300.00 - Micro Entity Fee $150.00 U.S. National Stage fees (for international applications entering the U.S. national phase under 35 U.S.C. 371) can be found on the USPTO's Web site (www.uspto.gov). April 06, 2016 MARK POWELL Deputy Commissioner for International Patent Cooperation United States Patent and Trademark Office
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 291|
|Notice of Maintenance Fees Payable|
Notice of Maintenance Fees Payable Title 37 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 1.362(d) provides that maintenance fees may be paid without surcharge for the six-month period beginning 3, 7, and 11 years after the date of issue of patents based on applications filed on or after Dec. 12, 1980. An additional six-month grace period is provided by 35 U.S.C. 41(b) and 37 CFR 1.362(e) for payment of the maintenance fee with the surcharge set forth in 37 CFR 1.20(h), as amended effective Dec. 16, 1991. If the maintenance fee is not paid in the patent requiring such payment the patent will expire on the 4th, 8th, or 12th anniversary of the grant. Attention is drawn to the patents that were issued on November 19, 2013 for which maintenance fees due at 3 years and six months may now be paid The patents have patent numbers within the following ranges: Utility Patents 8,584,262 through 8,590,061 Reissue Patents based on the above identified patents. Attention is drawn to the patents that were issued on November 17, 2009 for which maintenance fees due at 7 years and six months may now be paid The patents have patent numbers within the following ranges: Utility Patents 7,617,543 through 7,620,997 Reissue Patents based on the above identified patents. Attention is drawn to the patents that were issued on November 15, 2005 for which maintenance fees due at 11 years and six months may now be paid. The patents have patent numbers within the following ranges: Utility Patents 6,964,062 through 6,966,066 Reissue Patents based on the above identified patents. No maintenance fees are required for design or plant patents. Payments of maintenance fees in patents may be submitted electronically over the Internet at www.uspto.gov. Payments of maintenance fees in patents not submitted electronically over the Internet should be mailed to "Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Attn: Maintenance Fees, 2051 Jamieson Avenue, Suite 300, Alexandria, Virginia 22314". Correspondence related to maintenance fees other than payments of maintenance fees in patents should be mailed to "Mail Stop M Correspondence, Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, P.O. Box 1450, Alexandria, VA 22313-1450". Patent owners must establish small or micro entity status according to 37 CFR 1.27 or 1.29 if they have not done so and if they wish to pay the small or micro entity amount. The current amounts of the maintenance fees due at 3 years and six months, 7 years and six months, and 11 years and six months are set forth in the most recently amended provisions in 37 CFR 1.20(e)-(g). To obtain the current maintenance fee amounts, please call the USPTO Contact Center at (800)-786-9199 or see the current USPTO fee schedule posted on the USPTO web-site at www.uspto.gov.
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 292|
|Notice of Expiration of Patents Due to Failure to Pay Maintenance Fee|
Notice of Expiration of Patents Due to Failure to Pay Maintenance Fee 35 U.S.C. 41 and 37 CFR 1.362(g) provide that if the required maintenance fee and any applicable surcharge are not paid in a patent requiring such payment, the patent will expire at the end of the 4th, 8th or 12th anniversary of the grant of the patent depending on the first maintenance fee which was not paid. According to the records of the Office, the patents listed below have expired due to failure to pay the required maintenance fee and any applicable surcharge. PATENTS WHICH EXPIRED ON October 12, 2016 DUE TO FAILURE TO PAY MAINTENANCE FEES Patent Application Issue Number Number Date 6,802,081 09/485,675 10/12/04 6,802,086 10/601,588 10/12/04 6,802,096 10/460,365 10/12/04 6,802,098 09/852,196 10/12/04 6,802,103 10/263,948 10/12/04 6,802,105 10/194,445 10/12/04 6,802,112 09/986,887 10/12/04 6,802,115 10/171,635 10/12/04 6,802,117 09/777,369 10/12/04 6,802,121 10/203,415 10/12/04 6,802,124 10/233,890 10/12/04 6,802,137 10/721,134 10/12/04 6,802,138 10/071,303 10/12/04 6,802,139 10/121,277 10/12/04 6,802,141 10/399,768 10/12/04 6,802,144 09/764,715 10/12/04 6,802,146 10/277,496 10/12/04 6,802,147 10/453,216 10/12/04 6,802,156 10/154,003 10/12/04 6,802,163 10/378,729 10/12/04 6,802,166 10/031,185 10/12/04 6,802,167 10/052,492 10/12/04 6,802,179 10/308,645 10/12/04 6,802,180 10/305,121 10/12/04 6,802,181 10/341,616 10/12/04 6,802,182 10/034,531 10/12/04 6,802,191 09/837,983 10/12/04 6,802,192 10/470,061 10/12/04 6,802,203 10/198,975 10/12/04 6,802,204 09/959,555 10/12/04 6,802,208 10/091,396 10/12/04 6,802,209 10/182,464 10/12/04 6,802,214 10/364,795 10/12/04 6,802,224 10/415,257 10/12/04 6,802,225 10/200,764 10/12/04 6,802,229 10/452,625 10/12/04 6,802,231 09/744,046 10/12/04 6,802,233 10/287,591 10/12/04 6,802,246 10/832,371 10/12/04 6,802,250 10/151,377 10/12/04 6,802,256 09/619,975 10/12/04 6,802,257 10/644,208 10/12/04 6,802,267 10/250,227 10/12/04 6,802,270 10/313,577 10/12/04 6,802,274 10/223,664 10/12/04 6,802,279 10/641,765 10/12/04 6,802,284 10/120,464 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 293|
6,802,289 10/382,864 10/12/04 6,802,291 10/270,602 10/12/04 6,802,295 10/324,055 10/12/04 6,802,296 10/332,300 10/12/04 6,802,297 10/351,700 10/12/04 6,802,300 10/182,690 10/12/04 6,802,308 10/405,525 10/12/04 6,802,315 09/813,548 10/12/04 6,802,319 09/535,141 10/12/04 6,802,339 10/650,056 10/12/04 6,802,341 10/070,883 10/12/04 6,802,343 10/317,889 10/12/04 6,802,348 10/252,725 10/12/04 6,802,353 10/266,227 10/12/04 6,802,356 10/355,671 10/12/04 6,802,360 10/218,266 10/12/04 6,802,364 09/669,056 10/12/04 6,802,366 10/284,821 10/12/04 6,802,371 10/625,067 10/12/04 6,802,381 10/409,733 10/12/04 6,802,394 10/239,352 10/12/04 6,802,396 10/189,712 10/12/04 6,802,397 09/202,199 10/12/04 6,802,399 10/319,719 10/12/04 6,802,401 09/980,418 10/12/04 6,802,407 10/411,303 10/12/04 6,802,411 10/379,280 10/12/04 6,802,415 10/172,401 10/12/04 6,802,423 10/080,283 10/12/04 6,802,425 10/164,668 10/12/04 6,802,429 09/648,020 10/12/04 6,802,437 10/126,705 10/12/04 6,802,439 09/926,086 10/12/04 6,802,447 10/228,678 10/12/04 6,802,453 09/467,221 10/12/04 6,802,463 10/227,457 10/12/04 6,802,466 10/088,640 10/12/04 6,802,469 10/356,993 10/12/04 6,802,473 10/172,413 10/12/04 6,802,481 10/150,820 10/12/04 6,802,487 10/202,146 10/12/04 6,802,488 10/232,974 10/12/04 6,802,489 10/138,799 10/12/04 6,802,501 10/600,863 10/12/04 6,802,509 10/278,961 10/12/04 6,802,510 10/376,791 10/12/04 6,802,514 09/977,611 10/12/04 6,802,517 10/125,017 10/12/04 6,802,526 10/267,437 10/12/04 6,802,533 09/553,137 10/12/04 6,802,535 10/130,888 10/12/04 6,802,536 10/373,402 10/12/04 6,802,545 09/742,205 10/12/04 6,802,546 09/791,948 10/12/04 6,802,548 10/771,791 10/12/04 6,802,551 10/226,862 10/12/04 6,802,556 10/604,734 10/12/04 6,802,562 10/049,698 10/12/04 6,802,566 09/953,850 10/12/04 6,802,570 10/256,735 10/12/04 6,802,571 10/363,667 10/12/04 6,802,572 09/971,339 10/12/04 6,802,579 10/402,296 10/12/04 6,802,584 10/073,109 10/12/04 6,802,585 09/389,904 10/12/04 6,802,587 10/636,273 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 294|
6,802,590 10/282,197 10/12/04 6,802,594 10/636,271 10/12/04 6,802,595 10/211,519 10/12/04 6,802,597 10/238,892 10/12/04 6,802,599 10/088,827 10/12/04 6,802,600 10/218,525 10/12/04 6,802,605 10/013,987 10/12/04 6,802,613 10/272,594 10/12/04 6,802,617 10/372,873 10/12/04 6,802,627 10/329,808 10/12/04 6,802,629 10/208,533 10/12/04 6,802,632 10/237,606 10/12/04 6,802,633 10/605,129 10/12/04 6,802,636 10/261,287 10/12/04 6,802,648 10/181,218 10/12/04 6,802,655 10/196,054 10/12/04 6,802,657 10/376,233 10/12/04 6,802,660 10/416,159 10/12/04 6,802,669 10/232,811 10/12/04 6,802,676 09/798,836 10/12/04 6,802,677 09/828,660 10/12/04 6,802,679 10/239,985 10/12/04 6,802,680 10/760,737 10/12/04 6,802,681 10/298,583 10/12/04 6,802,695 10/348,533 10/12/04 6,802,697 10/331,167 10/12/04 6,802,702 10/472,426 10/12/04 6,802,703 10/242,408 10/12/04 6,802,704 10/297,894 10/12/04 6,802,705 09/948,917 10/12/04 6,802,706 10/214,502 10/12/04 6,802,718 10/126,234 10/12/04 6,802,720 10/612,527 10/12/04 6,802,723 10/379,651 10/12/04 6,802,726 10/446,181 10/12/04 6,802,733 09/931,299 10/12/04 6,802,743 09/968,128 10/12/04 6,802,747 10/237,341 10/12/04 6,802,748 09/747,608 10/12/04 6,802,752 09/332,101 10/12/04 6,802,753 09/722,454 10/12/04 6,802,755 10/216,599 10/12/04 6,802,761 10/392,630 10/12/04 6,802,762 09/970,621 10/12/04 6,802,764 10/271,866 10/12/04 6,802,767 10/240,830 10/12/04 6,802,771 10/215,841 10/12/04 6,802,780 10/024,969 10/12/04 6,802,781 10/303,499 10/12/04 6,802,784 10/157,521 10/12/04 6,802,785 10/216,459 10/12/04 6,802,789 10/099,445 10/12/04 6,802,790 10/086,292 10/12/04 6,802,795 10/427,930 10/12/04 6,802,796 10/465,658 10/12/04 6,802,797 09/938,246 10/12/04 6,802,801 09/993,154 10/12/04 6,802,802 10/150,525 10/12/04 6,802,803 10/126,876 10/12/04 6,802,804 09/958,389 10/12/04 6,802,814 10/265,399 10/12/04 6,802,815 10/721,083 10/12/04 6,802,817 10/366,024 10/12/04 6,802,820 09/549,131 10/12/04 6,802,825 09/898,148 10/12/04 6,802,826 09/685,499 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 295|
6,802,832 10/087,019 10/12/04 6,802,833 10/351,565 10/12/04 6,802,834 10/306,185 10/12/04 6,802,835 10/732,869 10/12/04 6,802,836 10/078,223 10/12/04 6,802,839 10/235,034 10/12/04 6,802,842 10/334,289 10/12/04 6,802,845 10/207,911 10/12/04 6,802,858 09/774,320 10/12/04 6,802,859 10/194,944 10/12/04 6,802,862 09/657,379 10/12/04 6,802,863 10/374,190 10/12/04 6,802,868 10/386,241 10/12/04 6,802,870 10/726,901 10/12/04 6,802,877 09/973,804 10/12/04 6,802,885 10/056,965 10/12/04 6,802,886 09/852,866 10/12/04 6,802,887 10/168,393 10/12/04 6,802,890 10/240,773 10/12/04 6,802,907 10/320,699 10/12/04 6,802,917 09/579,531 10/12/04 6,802,924 10/396,863 10/12/04 6,802,925 10/230,220 10/12/04 6,802,927 10/033,958 10/12/04 6,802,934 10/378,890 10/12/04 6,802,942 10/263,157 10/12/04 6,802,946 09/855,059 10/12/04 6,802,948 10/194,127 10/12/04 6,802,949 10/269,865 10/12/04 6,802,953 10/046,903 10/12/04 6,802,966 09/929,621 10/12/04 6,802,969 10/294,018 10/12/04 6,802,971 10/666,185 10/12/04 6,802,977 10/109,654 10/12/04 6,802,981 10/288,087 10/12/04 6,802,984 09/507,163 10/12/04 6,802,989 10/009,613 10/12/04 6,802,990 09/960,955 10/12/04 6,802,999 10/173,536 10/12/04 6,803,001 09/764,106 10/12/04 6,803,002 10/150,484 10/12/04 6,803,003 10/005,683 10/12/04 6,803,009 09/995,962 10/12/04 6,803,016 10/070,529 10/12/04 6,803,018 09/101,663 10/12/04 6,803,023 09/677,188 10/12/04 6,803,030 10/220,048 10/12/04 6,803,038 09/674,738 10/12/04 6,803,040 08/517,949 10/12/04 6,803,045 09/640,325 10/12/04 6,803,050 10/399,239 10/12/04 6,803,054 10/453,422 10/12/04 6,803,055 10/359,226 10/12/04 6,803,067 10/317,741 10/12/04 6,803,068 10/079,306 10/12/04 6,803,069 09/885,361 10/12/04 6,803,071 10/339,622 10/12/04 6,803,073 10/387,087 10/12/04 6,803,079 10/326,737 10/12/04 6,803,080 10/231,308 10/12/04 6,803,081 09/891,985 10/12/04 6,803,093 09/979,457 10/12/04 6,803,095 09/672,437 10/12/04 6,803,096 10/066,520 10/12/04 6,803,097 10/327,285 10/12/04 6,803,098 10/612,956 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 296|
6,803,107 10/276,986 10/12/04 6,803,124 10/114,261 10/12/04 6,803,125 10/162,581 10/12/04 6,803,128 10/394,066 10/12/04 6,803,130 09/697,542 10/12/04 6,803,133 10/306,709 10/12/04 6,803,134 10/157,937 10/12/04 6,803,140 09/939,577 10/12/04 6,803,143 09/844,677 10/12/04 6,803,146 09/909,359 10/12/04 6,803,147 10/037,133 10/12/04 6,803,149 09/977,214 10/12/04 6,803,151 10/080,296 10/12/04 6,803,153 09/708,498 10/12/04 6,803,155 09/917,697 10/12/04 6,803,156 09/920,504 10/12/04 6,803,159 10/112,454 10/12/04 6,803,175 10/108,796 10/12/04 6,803,189 09/315,355 10/12/04 6,803,193 09/599,662 10/12/04 6,803,195 09/660,328 10/12/04 6,803,198 09/934,138 10/12/04 6,803,203 09/695,437 10/12/04 6,803,209 09/779,984 10/12/04 6,803,212 09/986,633 10/12/04 6,803,213 10/157,076 10/12/04 6,803,214 09/644,987 10/12/04 6,803,215 09/706,228 10/12/04 6,803,224 09/746,567 10/12/04 6,803,232 09/719,088 10/12/04 6,803,237 09/771,354 10/12/04 6,803,239 10/139,550 10/12/04 6,803,240 10/654,231 10/12/04 6,803,251 09/907,600 10/12/04 6,803,256 10/039,679 10/12/04 6,803,263 10/420,453 10/12/04 6,803,264 09/808,162 10/12/04 6,803,266 10/249,184 10/12/04 6,803,268 09/606,159 10/12/04 6,803,278 10/280,757 10/12/04 6,803,280 10/060,451 10/12/04 6,803,281 10/785,103 10/12/04 6,803,286 10/418,540 10/12/04 6,803,293 10/362,489 10/12/04 6,803,296 10/157,233 10/12/04 6,803,297 10/251,440 10/12/04 6,803,301 10/174,727 10/12/04 6,803,304 09/950,250 10/12/04 6,803,306 09/753,664 10/12/04 6,803,309 10/190,140 10/12/04 6,803,314 09/845,480 10/12/04 6,803,315 10/212,938 10/12/04 6,803,316 10/454,410 10/12/04 6,803,319 10/248,779 10/12/04 6,803,320 10/262,881 10/12/04 6,803,323 10/159,633 10/12/04 6,803,325 10/120,713 10/12/04 6,803,328 10/287,194 10/12/04 6,803,329 10/342,245 10/12/04 6,803,334 09/940,711 10/12/04 6,803,342 08/624,047 10/12/04 6,803,346 09/622,454 10/12/04 6,803,348 09/646,715 10/12/04 6,803,373 10/233,864 10/12/04 6,803,383 10/240,141 10/12/04 6,803,387 09/528,798 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 297|
6,803,388 10/017,290 10/12/04 6,803,390 10/109,959 10/12/04 6,803,395 10/001,741 10/12/04 6,803,398 09/486,368 10/12/04 6,803,399 10/465,316 10/12/04 6,803,405 10/088,521 10/12/04 6,803,407 10/221,614 10/12/04 6,803,416 10/029,265 10/12/04 6,803,424 10/182,355 10/12/04 6,803,425 10/122,487 10/12/04 6,803,431 09/937,844 10/12/04 6,803,435 10/198,426 10/12/04 6,803,443 09/926,576 10/12/04 6,803,445 10/212,074 10/12/04 6,803,446 09/905,316 10/12/04 6,803,461 10/208,879 10/12/04 6,803,462 10/609,973 10/12/04 6,803,466 09/581,044 10/12/04 6,803,472 10/296,925 10/12/04 6,803,474 10/008,822 10/12/04 6,803,476 10/041,302 10/12/04 6,803,477 10/305,025 10/12/04 6,803,481 10/344,885 10/12/04 6,803,493 10/642,030 10/12/04 6,803,496 08/926,532 10/12/04 6,803,498 10/160,719 10/12/04 6,803,500 09/830,123 10/12/04 6,803,501 09/800,130 10/12/04 6,803,502 09/816,791 10/12/04 6,803,503 10/097,655 10/12/04 6,803,504 10/098,191 10/12/04 6,803,509 10/266,988 10/12/04 6,803,513 10/223,969 10/12/04 6,803,523 10/651,276 10/12/04 6,803,524 10/367,350 10/12/04 6,803,525 10/750,950 10/12/04 6,803,526 10/404,897 10/12/04 6,803,527 10/108,127 10/12/04 6,803,533 10/237,991 10/12/04 6,803,541 10/063,816 10/12/04 6,803,542 10/377,337 10/12/04 6,803,546 09/611,349 10/12/04 6,803,549 10/063,974 10/12/04 6,803,551 10/390,023 10/12/04 6,803,559 10/439,624 10/12/04 6,803,563 10/737,243 10/12/04 6,803,568 10/649,350 10/12/04 6,803,570 10/618,078 10/12/04 6,803,579 09/966,857 10/12/04 6,803,587 10/043,647 10/12/04 6,803,589 09/957,511 10/12/04 6,803,590 10/379,065 10/12/04 6,803,594 10/204,739 10/12/04 6,803,595 10/305,397 10/12/04 6,803,596 09/745,998 10/12/04 6,803,601 10/140,424 10/12/04 6,803,612 10/662,795 10/12/04 6,803,628 09/663,340 10/12/04 6,803,637 10/169,464 10/12/04 6,803,639 10/046,265 10/12/04 6,803,643 10/260,476 10/12/04 6,803,646 10/052,078 10/12/04 6,803,652 09/870,952 10/12/04 6,803,655 09/682,131 10/12/04 6,803,656 09/928,478 10/12/04 6,803,657 09/295,709 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 298|
6,803,658 10/755,379 10/12/04 6,803,659 10/268,700 10/12/04 6,803,662 10/026,117 10/12/04 6,803,663 10/316,052 10/12/04 6,803,666 10/105,366 10/12/04 6,803,668 10/303,501 10/12/04 6,803,669 10/716,780 10/12/04 6,803,670 10/151,365 10/12/04 6,803,678 09/864,037 10/12/04 6,803,683 10/682,710 10/12/04 6,803,684 09/854,932 10/12/04 6,803,688 10/208,209 10/12/04 6,803,695 10/379,159 10/12/04 6,803,700 10/163,518 10/12/04 6,803,701 10/173,325 10/12/04 6,803,702 10/050,586 10/12/04 6,803,703 10/388,590 10/12/04 6,803,704 09/971,038 10/12/04 6,803,707 09/846,364 10/12/04 6,803,710 09/646,992 10/12/04 6,803,715 09/512,359 10/12/04 6,803,722 09/995,383 10/12/04 6,803,726 10/393,287 10/12/04 6,803,727 10/221,362 10/12/04 6,803,732 10/324,431 10/12/04 6,803,733 10/409,644 10/12/04 6,803,740 10/280,836 10/12/04 6,803,745 10/360,311 10/12/04 6,803,746 10/287,753 10/12/04 6,803,747 10/301,571 10/12/04 6,803,749 10/337,735 10/12/04 6,803,753 10/338,187 10/12/04 6,803,755 10/001,412 10/12/04 6,803,757 09/970,208 10/12/04 6,803,778 10/369,806 10/12/04 6,803,780 10/139,685 10/12/04 6,803,782 10/395,656 10/12/04 6,803,783 10/355,559 10/12/04 6,803,790 10/690,235 10/12/04 6,803,793 10/061,379 10/12/04 6,803,801 10/289,949 10/12/04 6,803,805 10/118,753 10/12/04 6,803,821 10/406,334 10/12/04 6,803,822 10/389,053 10/12/04 6,803,825 10/406,064 10/12/04 6,803,831 10/439,873 10/12/04 6,803,840 10/113,247 10/12/04 6,803,841 10/294,758 10/12/04 6,803,842 10/412,858 10/12/04 6,803,843 10/073,311 10/12/04 6,803,853 09/933,093 10/12/04 6,803,855 10/243,783 10/12/04 6,803,856 09/656,594 10/12/04 6,803,857 09/598,921 10/12/04 6,803,863 09/479,073 10/12/04 6,803,876 10/453,892 10/12/04 6,803,886 09/931,843 10/12/04 6,803,888 09/536,146 10/12/04 6,803,889 09/984,738 10/12/04 6,803,892 10/388,175 10/12/04 6,803,898 10/261,631 10/12/04 6,803,899 09/621,409 10/12/04 6,803,904 10/001,566 10/12/04 6,803,908 10/023,454 10/12/04 6,803,911 10/079,976 10/12/04 6,803,912 09/921,090 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 299|
6,803,913 09/452,422 10/12/04 6,803,914 09/859,898 10/12/04 6,803,919 09/611,588 10/12/04 6,803,926 09/157,018 10/12/04 6,803,933 10/463,371 10/12/04 6,803,937 09/860,562 10/12/04 6,803,939 09/955,951 10/12/04 6,803,940 09/811,389 10/12/04 6,803,942 10/158,887 10/12/04 6,803,944 10/366,342 10/12/04 6,803,948 09/347,215 10/12/04 6,803,949 08/768,787 10/12/04 6,803,952 09/495,163 10/12/04 6,803,953 09/794,472 10/12/04 6,803,955 09/518,706 10/12/04 6,803,957 09/237,230 10/12/04 6,803,962 09/440,342 10/12/04 6,803,970 09/337,493 10/12/04 6,803,994 10/448,633 10/12/04 6,803,995 09/765,148 10/12/04 6,803,997 10/093,535 10/12/04 6,803,998 10/224,038 10/12/04 6,803,999 09/642,996 10/12/04 6,804,000 10/017,912 10/12/04 6,804,009 10/087,482 10/12/04 6,804,010 10/115,922 10/12/04 6,804,014 09/897,576 10/12/04 6,804,015 09/567,120 10/12/04 6,804,018 09/338,801 10/12/04 6,804,026 09/575,167 10/12/04 6,804,027 09/918,260 10/12/04 6,804,031 09/459,638 10/12/04 6,804,041 10/457,287 10/12/04 6,804,048 10/460,206 10/12/04 6,804,051 10/081,833 10/12/04 6,804,052 10/657,666 10/12/04 6,804,053 09/740,809 10/12/04 6,804,056 10/461,428 10/12/04 6,804,057 10/071,145 10/12/04 6,804,058 09/626,938 10/12/04 6,804,059 10/033,201 10/12/04 6,804,062 10/266,806 10/12/04 6,804,068 10/348,702 10/12/04 6,804,069 09/942,765 10/12/04 6,804,074 09/862,422 10/12/04 6,804,077 09/907,676 10/12/04 6,804,078 09/908,952 10/12/04 6,804,079 10/017,930 10/12/04 6,804,081 10/144,257 10/12/04 6,804,085 08/408,036 10/12/04 6,804,088 09/743,521 10/12/04 6,804,090 10/196,149 10/12/04 6,804,093 10/044,598 10/12/04 6,804,105 10/370,148 10/12/04 6,804,112 10/290,909 10/12/04 6,804,115 10/361,513 10/12/04 6,804,119 10/209,136 10/12/04 6,804,120 10/306,396 10/12/04 6,804,122 10/639,307 10/12/04 6,804,129 10/776,417 10/12/04 6,804,135 10/775,526 10/12/04 6,804,146 10/776,987 10/12/04 6,804,147 10/223,370 10/12/04 6,804,151 10/437,390 10/12/04 6,804,152 10/252,438 10/12/04 6,804,153 10/445,934 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 300|
6,804,154 10/455,388 10/12/04 6,804,155 10/319,591 10/12/04 6,804,156 10/320,686 10/12/04 6,804,158 10/109,857 10/12/04 6,804,162 10/117,501 10/12/04 6,804,165 10/374,657 10/12/04 6,804,166 10/680,773 10/12/04 6,804,168 10/219,228 10/12/04 6,804,171 09/810,853 10/12/04 6,804,176 09/512,370 10/12/04 6,804,182 09/827,249 10/12/04 6,804,191 10/407,016 10/12/04 6,804,195 09/005,928 10/12/04 6,804,196 09/716,594 10/12/04 6,804,207 10/095,728 10/12/04 6,804,213 09/729,180 10/12/04 6,804,216 09/595,896 10/12/04 6,804,217 09/663,359 10/12/04 6,804,220 10/121,648 10/12/04 6,804,224 09/515,365 10/12/04 6,804,226 09/270,407 10/12/04 6,804,230 09/432,591 10/12/04 6,804,238 09/473,802 10/12/04 6,804,242 09/407,504 10/12/04 6,804,245 09/932,349 10/12/04 6,804,247 09/580,603 10/12/04 6,804,249 09/548,911 10/12/04 6,804,259 09/558,167 10/12/04 6,804,262 09/560,087 10/12/04 6,804,284 09/510,666 10/12/04 6,804,289 09/785,174 10/12/04 6,804,295 09/479,090 10/12/04 6,804,296 09/991,988 10/12/04 6,804,297 09/991,989 10/12/04 6,804,298 09/991,992 10/12/04 6,804,302 09/407,487 10/12/04 6,804,305 09/634,376 10/12/04 6,804,317 10/040,689 10/12/04 6,804,319 10/718,235 10/12/04 6,804,324 09/797,498 10/12/04 6,804,341 09/846,389 10/12/04 6,804,342 09/363,433 10/12/04 6,804,347 09/876,347 10/12/04 6,804,350 09/745,382 10/12/04 6,804,351 09/710,388 10/12/04 6,804,358 09/581,534 10/12/04 6,804,360 09/419,785 10/12/04 6,804,363 10/297,141 10/12/04 6,804,367 09/884,836 10/12/04 6,804,372 09/413,134 10/12/04 6,804,373 09/593,445 10/12/04 6,804,375 09/891,298 10/12/04 6,804,376 10/113,818 10/12/04 6,804,378 10/366,541 10/12/04 6,804,379 09/939,298 10/12/04 6,804,383 09/846,631 10/12/04 6,804,387 09/628,275 10/12/04 6,804,394 09/975,228 10/12/04 6,804,397 10/278,840 10/12/04 6,804,398 10/278,948 10/12/04 6,804,402 09/272,364 10/12/04 6,804,414 09/233,498 10/12/04 6,804,416 09/809,026 10/12/04 6,804,423 10/022,388 10/12/04 6,804,429 10/072,639 10/12/04 6,804,430 10/156,868 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 301|
6,804,431 10/195,242 10/12/04 6,804,433 10/335,990 10/12/04 6,804,435 10/103,475 10/12/04 6,804,451 09/000,928 10/12/04 6,804,453 09/571,656 10/12/04 6,804,455 09/572,495 10/12/04 6,804,457 09/719,044 10/12/04 6,804,464 09/781,254 10/12/04 6,804,467 09/823,971 10/12/04 6,804,470 09/510,649 10/12/04 6,804,482 10/254,975 10/12/04 6,804,484 10/244,590 10/12/04 6,804,485 10/278,129 10/12/04 6,804,486 10/314,417 10/12/04 6,804,494 09/879,074 10/12/04 6,804,500 09/826,361 10/12/04 6,804,503 10/272,439 10/12/04 6,804,506 09/646,675 10/12/04 6,804,507 10/222,866 10/12/04 6,804,511 09/470,162 10/12/04 6,804,515 09/604,143 10/12/04 6,804,524 09/718,970 10/12/04 6,804,526 09/842,590 10/12/04 6,804,531 09/799,788 10/12/04 6,804,535 09/325,962 10/12/04 6,804,537 09/704,615 10/12/04 6,804,539 10/246,715 10/12/04 6,804,543 10/099,974 10/12/04 6,804,558 09/765,484 10/12/04 6,804,563 09/787,685 10/12/04 6,804,568 09/612,956 10/12/04 6,804,578 10/253,254 10/12/04 6,804,581 09/996,419 10/12/04 6,804,584 10/101,998 10/12/04 6,804,592 09/982,217 10/12/04 6,804,593 10/270,723 10/12/04 6,804,595 09/654,417 10/12/04 6,804,605 10/244,361 10/12/04 6,804,606 10/435,780 10/12/04 6,804,617 10/019,181 10/12/04 6,804,620 10/393,876 10/12/04 6,804,635 09/640,365 10/12/04 6,804,642 08/881,741 10/12/04 6,804,646 09/646,593 10/12/04 6,804,648 09/275,782 10/12/04 6,804,651 10/101,533 10/12/04 6,804,660 09/846,159 10/12/04 6,804,661 09/894,440 10/12/04 6,804,665 09/836,200 10/12/04 6,804,680 09/780,227 10/12/04 6,804,683 09/716,692 10/12/04 6,804,687 10/443,293 10/12/04 6,804,691 10/104,751 10/12/04 6,804,694 09/885,781 10/12/04 6,804,696 09/740,485 10/12/04 6,804,703 09/599,184 10/12/04 6,804,706 10/291,136 10/12/04 6,804,710 09/696,129 10/12/04 6,804,711 09/420,655 10/12/04 6,804,719 09/645,861 10/12/04 6,804,723 09/643,738 10/12/04 6,804,729 10/261,864 10/12/04 6,804,735 09/784,244 10/12/04 6,804,736 09/727,032 10/12/04 6,804,737 09/748,324 10/12/04 6,804,739 10/068,651 10/12/04
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 302|
6,804,741 10/050,722 10/12/04 6,804,743 10/289,876 10/12/04 6,804,746 10/005,204 10/12/04 6,804,747 10/015,292 10/12/04 6,804,751 10/102,151 10/12/04 6,804,760 08/457,650 10/12/04 6,804,765 09/845,553 10/12/04 6,804,767 09/449,839 10/12/04 6,804,774 09/630,754 10/12/04 6,804,783 09/552,476 10/12/04 6,804,784 09/701,458 10/12/04 6,804,785 09/742,477 10/12/04 6,804,786 09/657,153 10/12/04 6,804,788 09/632,179 10/12/04 6,804,789 09/795,132 10/12/04 6,804,792 09/779,554 10/12/04 6,804,796 09/836,987 10/12/04 6,804,804 09/909,756 10/12/04 6,804,813 09/706,176 10/12/04 6,804,814 09/474,680 10/12/04 RE.41,465 11/580,316 08/03/10 6,803,723 10/110,955 10/12/04 RE.43,232 11/580,315 03/13/12 6,802,385 10/146,024 10/12/04 PATENTS WHICH EXPIRED ON October 7, 2016 DUE TO FAILURE TO PAY MAINTENANCE FEES Patent Application Issue Number Number Date 7,430,763 11/670,155 10/07/08 7,430,765 11/363,588 10/07/08 7,430,782 11/062,555 10/07/08 7,430,785 11/094,996 10/07/08 7,430,786 11/785,940 10/07/08 7,430,794 10/997,149 10/07/08 7,430,799 11/025,428 10/07/08 7,430,801 11/898,405 10/07/08 7,430,802 10/569,144 10/07/08 7,430,803 11/022,662 10/07/08 7,430,807 10/555,976 10/07/08 7,430,808 11/984,128 10/07/08 7,430,811 11/708,739 10/07/08 7,430,812 11/380,319 10/07/08 7,430,817 11/282,559 10/07/08 7,430,822 11/649,135 10/07/08 7,430,824 11/819,362 10/07/08 7,430,825 11/369,166 10/07/08 7,430,839 11/234,494 10/07/08 7,430,840 11/539,319 10/07/08 7,430,845 11/300,132 10/07/08 7,430,849 12/122,481 10/07/08 7,430,859 11/323,508 10/07/08 7,430,862 11/463,696 10/07/08 7,430,863 11/746,945 10/07/08 7,430,864 11/471,619 10/07/08 7,430,875 11/075,744 10/07/08 7,430,882 10/567,115 10/07/08 7,430,883 11/403,557 10/07/08 7,430,888 10/554,112 10/07/08 7,430,890 11/166,888 10/07/08 7,430,895 11/282,182 10/07/08 7,430,896 11/404,219 10/07/08 7,430,900 11/278,781 10/07/08 7,430,903 10/554,117 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 303|
7,430,906 11/299,892 10/07/08 7,430,910 10/566,288 10/07/08 7,430,919 11/764,227 10/07/08 7,430,922 10/596,905 10/07/08 7,430,926 11/352,635 10/07/08 7,430,927 11/766,125 10/07/08 7,430,930 11/088,745 10/07/08 7,430,931 10/710,840 10/07/08 7,430,936 11/370,070 10/07/08 7,430,946 11/497,488 10/07/08 7,430,949 11/177,157 10/07/08 7,430,950 10/961,160 10/07/08 7,430,951 09/645,653 10/07/08 7,430,953 11/516,148 10/07/08 7,430,955 11/471,006 10/07/08 7,430,965 10/961,703 10/07/08 7,430,975 11/043,002 10/07/08 7,430,977 11/559,125 10/07/08 7,430,982 10/545,815 10/07/08 7,430,985 10/502,807 10/07/08 7,430,994 11/306,184 10/07/08 7,430,996 11/492,828 10/07/08 7,431,001 11/772,372 10/07/08 7,431,006 11/615,411 10/07/08 7,431,007 10/553,857 10/07/08 7,431,008 11/393,564 10/07/08 7,431,010 10/529,579 10/07/08 7,431,011 11/670,485 10/07/08 7,431,027 11/288,849 10/07/08 7,431,033 10/512,734 10/07/08 7,431,036 11/459,476 10/07/08 7,431,039 10/900,863 10/07/08 7,431,041 11/308,193 10/07/08 7,431,042 11/463,901 10/07/08 7,431,050 10/537,231 10/07/08 7,431,056 11/582,183 10/07/08 7,431,057 11/270,261 10/07/08 7,431,060 10/828,059 10/07/08 7,431,064 11/352,467 10/07/08 7,431,065 11/635,489 10/07/08 7,431,069 11/030,230 10/07/08 7,431,072 11/648,632 10/07/08 7,431,076 11/112,713 10/07/08 7,431,079 11/121,725 10/07/08 7,431,083 11/279,593 10/07/08 7,431,084 11/519,688 10/07/08 7,431,094 11/373,566 10/07/08 7,431,100 11/468,881 10/07/08 7,431,101 11/611,535 10/07/08 7,431,105 11/492,260 10/07/08 7,431,106 10/565,625 10/07/08 7,431,121 11/237,613 10/07/08 7,431,125 11/187,393 10/07/08 7,431,126 11/189,588 10/07/08 7,431,135 10/976,252 10/07/08 7,431,136 11/294,901 10/07/08 7,431,137 11/358,439 10/07/08 7,431,142 11/357,475 10/07/08 7,431,145 11/111,094 10/07/08 7,431,151 11/226,029 10/07/08 7,431,153 10/505,619 10/07/08 7,431,155 10/875,236 10/07/08 7,431,160 10/531,139 10/07/08 7,431,166 11/468,381 10/07/08 7,431,167 11/280,085 10/07/08 7,431,171 11/530,764 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 304|
7,431,173 10/497,307 10/07/08 7,431,174 10/818,290 10/07/08 7,431,176 11/154,553 10/07/08 7,431,195 10/670,460 10/07/08 7,431,198 11/487,843 10/07/08 7,431,205 11/723,589 10/07/08 7,431,209 10/255,348 10/07/08 7,431,219 10/893,372 10/07/08 7,431,224 10/540,602 10/07/08 7,431,225 11/198,560 10/07/08 7,431,226 10/859,608 10/07/08 7,431,229 11/635,442 10/07/08 7,431,231 11/634,406 10/07/08 7,431,234 11/114,678 10/07/08 7,431,242 11/265,324 10/07/08 7,431,255 11/529,862 10/07/08 7,431,261 11/204,498 10/07/08 7,431,266 11/906,620 10/07/08 7,431,274 11/065,325 10/07/08 7,431,275 10/511,246 10/07/08 7,431,276 10/558,700 10/07/08 7,431,277 11/522,129 10/07/08 7,431,281 10/470,947 10/07/08 7,431,289 11/393,903 10/07/08 7,431,292 10/849,076 10/07/08 7,431,295 11/202,360 10/07/08 7,431,300 11/416,084 10/07/08 7,431,301 11/463,059 10/07/08 7,431,309 10/522,551 10/07/08 7,431,311 11/340,504 10/07/08 7,431,313 11/438,707 10/07/08 7,431,317 11/527,753 10/07/08 7,431,327 11/200,239 10/07/08 7,431,330 10/522,343 10/07/08 7,431,334 11/394,680 10/07/08 7,431,336 11/250,423 10/07/08 7,431,342 11/082,490 10/07/08 7,431,348 11/621,448 10/07/08 7,431,355 11/473,529 10/07/08 7,431,363 10/945,676 10/07/08 7,431,370 11/732,640 10/07/08 7,431,371 11/386,525 10/07/08 7,431,373 10/523,056 10/07/08 7,431,376 11/946,185 10/07/08 7,431,380 11/358,364 10/07/08 7,431,381 11/519,493 10/07/08 7,431,388 11/633,104 10/07/08 7,431,390 10/883,777 10/07/08 7,431,391 11/333,403 10/07/08 7,431,393 11/894,460 10/07/08 7,431,394 11/975,458 10/07/08 7,431,398 10/937,897 10/07/08 7,431,405 11/431,612 10/07/08 7,431,406 10/816,448 10/07/08 7,431,407 11/017,686 10/07/08 7,431,409 10/483,422 10/07/08 7,431,425 11/600,803 10/07/08 7,431,426 11/695,127 10/07/08 7,431,427 11/165,027 10/07/08 7,431,429 11/298,530 10/07/08 7,431,431 11/097,299 10/07/08 7,431,433 10/773,184 10/07/08 7,431,437 11/152,649 10/07/08 7,431,438 10/513,669 10/07/08 7,431,441 11/474,315 10/07/08 7,431,449 11/124,168 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 305|
7,431,465 11/221,908 10/07/08 7,431,471 11/387,406 10/07/08 7,431,475 11/187,720 10/07/08 7,431,484 11/073,487 10/07/08 7,431,487 11/462,521 10/07/08 7,431,490 11/404,520 10/07/08 7,431,491 11/309,511 10/07/08 7,431,497 11/527,014 10/07/08 7,431,502 10/941,730 10/07/08 7,431,507 10/862,359 10/07/08 7,431,510 11/220,102 10/07/08 7,431,520 11/174,468 10/07/08 7,431,525 11/093,344 10/07/08 7,431,526 11/097,237 10/07/08 7,431,529 10/849,809 10/07/08 7,431,537 11/423,429 10/07/08 7,431,546 11/499,045 10/07/08 7,431,556 11/134,454 10/07/08 7,431,573 10/381,849 10/07/08 7,431,574 11/022,476 10/07/08 7,431,576 11/290,669 10/07/08 7,431,585 10/278,615 10/07/08 7,431,587 10/981,380 10/07/08 7,431,588 10/416,631 10/07/08 7,431,590 11/497,246 10/07/08 7,431,594 11/559,875 10/07/08 7,431,597 11/923,752 10/07/08 7,431,603 11/607,644 10/07/08 7,431,617 11/651,877 10/07/08 7,431,626 10/771,091 10/07/08 7,431,627 11/007,215 10/07/08 7,431,637 10/559,757 10/07/08 7,431,639 10/939,759 10/07/08 7,431,640 12/046,567 10/07/08 7,431,641 10/500,570 10/07/08 7,431,642 11/278,488 10/07/08 7,431,644 11/158,787 10/07/08 7,431,645 11/111,315 10/07/08 7,431,646 11/121,683 10/07/08 7,431,655 10/616,820 10/07/08 7,431,658 11/668,949 10/07/08 7,431,663 11/558,744 10/07/08 7,431,673 11/448,044 10/07/08 7,431,679 11/681,332 10/07/08 7,431,684 10/553,867 10/07/08 7,431,687 11/075,172 10/07/08 7,431,701 10/363,892 10/07/08 7,431,705 10/724,981 10/07/08 7,431,718 11/037,251 10/07/08 7,431,725 10/898,036 10/07/08 7,431,741 10/588,934 10/07/08 7,431,745 10/484,971 10/07/08 7,431,756 11/138,864 10/07/08 7,431,758 10/532,316 10/07/08 7,431,770 10/818,456 10/07/08 7,431,773 11/364,738 10/07/08 7,431,776 11/378,153 10/07/08 7,431,777 10/829,818 10/07/08 7,431,780 10/485,646 10/07/08 7,431,792 10/547,905 10/07/08 7,431,795 10/909,009 10/07/08 7,431,798 10/432,620 10/07/08 7,431,799 11/062,819 10/07/08 7,431,800 10/512,599 10/07/08 7,431,802 11/159,986 10/07/08 7,431,806 11/035,339 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 306|
7,431,808 10/223,531 10/07/08 7,431,812 10/506,146 10/07/08 7,431,815 11/122,847 10/07/08 7,431,816 10/856,849 10/07/08 7,431,819 10/513,966 10/07/08 7,431,821 10/355,110 10/07/08 7,431,829 10/573,012 10/07/08 7,431,833 11/696,320 10/07/08 7,431,838 11/502,140 10/07/08 7,431,843 10/918,880 10/07/08 7,431,854 11/049,174 10/07/08 7,431,875 10/498,028 10/07/08 7,431,878 10/299,659 10/07/08 7,431,879 10/809,832 10/07/08 7,431,892 10/254,014 10/07/08 7,431,893 09/511,158 10/07/08 7,431,896 11/145,339 10/07/08 7,431,903 10/494,176 10/07/08 7,431,906 10/478,031 10/07/08 7,431,908 10/938,539 10/07/08 7,431,912 11/083,984 10/07/08 7,431,914 10/559,880 10/07/08 7,431,924 11/495,801 10/07/08 7,431,926 10/868,270 10/07/08 7,431,929 11/022,477 10/07/08 7,431,936 10/305,956 10/07/08 7,431,937 09/820,954 10/07/08 7,431,938 10/774,268 10/07/08 7,431,944 10/458,451 10/07/08 7,431,950 11/810,761 10/07/08 7,431,951 11/509,831 10/07/08 7,431,953 10/501,504 10/07/08 7,431,958 11/011,787 10/07/08 7,431,961 11/010,105 10/07/08 7,431,967 10/757,770 10/07/08 7,431,970 10/817,406 10/07/08 7,431,973 11/059,657 10/07/08 7,431,976 11/055,185 10/07/08 7,431,990 11/137,820 10/07/08 7,431,995 11/282,121 10/07/08 7,432,003 10/717,568 10/07/08 7,432,013 10/986,866 10/07/08 7,432,014 10/969,815 10/07/08 7,432,016 10/940,049 10/07/08 7,432,021 10/890,299 10/07/08 7,432,027 11/093,965 10/07/08 7,432,028 10/772,069 10/07/08 7,432,033 10/978,671 10/07/08 7,432,036 10/678,301 10/07/08 7,432,038 10/543,135 10/07/08 7,432,039 10/979,023 10/07/08 7,432,040 11/166,102 10/07/08 7,432,047 11/543,710 10/07/08 7,432,048 09/732,622 10/07/08 7,432,049 10/085,783 10/07/08 7,432,051 10/432,899 10/07/08 7,432,063 10/677,131 10/07/08 7,432,077 10/069,541 10/07/08 7,432,078 10/450,484 10/07/08 7,432,079 11/314,397 10/07/08 7,432,081 10/286,516 10/07/08 7,432,086 11/658,063 10/07/08 7,432,087 10/960,513 10/07/08 7,432,093 11/045,540 10/07/08 7,432,096 10/555,903 10/07/08 7,432,100 11/080,628 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 307|
7,432,101 10/565,281 10/07/08 7,432,108 11/355,988 10/07/08 7,432,111 11/191,543 10/07/08 7,432,112 11/134,747 10/07/08 7,432,113 11/134,749 10/07/08 7,432,118 11/147,135 10/07/08 7,432,132 11/091,685 10/07/08 7,432,134 11/943,609 10/07/08 7,432,136 10/140,441 10/07/08 7,432,137 11/197,320 10/07/08 7,432,140 11/623,214 10/07/08 7,432,144 11/320,694 10/07/08 7,432,147 11/318,479 10/07/08 7,432,153 11/898,685 10/07/08 7,432,157 10/950,218 10/07/08 7,432,162 11/480,866 10/07/08 7,432,174 11/693,890 10/07/08 7,432,176 11/578,034 10/07/08 7,432,177 11/154,211 10/07/08 7,432,182 11/186,397 10/07/08 7,432,184 11/213,662 10/07/08 7,432,185 11/397,448 10/07/08 7,432,186 11/425,394 10/07/08 7,432,190 11/320,890 10/07/08 7,432,191 11/694,623 10/07/08 7,432,198 11/288,755 10/07/08 7,432,201 11/185,535 10/07/08 7,432,202 11/320,273 10/07/08 7,432,208 11/461,768 10/07/08 7,432,212 11/490,807 10/07/08 7,432,216 11/503,935 10/07/08 7,432,217 11/473,070 10/07/08 7,432,218 11/211,527 10/07/08 7,432,228 11/362,415 10/07/08 7,432,229 10/809,174 10/07/08 7,432,235 12/013,666 10/07/08 7,432,236 10/405,588 10/07/08 7,432,242 10/365,840 10/07/08 7,432,243 10/408,415 10/07/08 7,432,256 11/297,691 10/07/08 7,432,258 11/780,584 10/07/08 7,432,259 11/947,822 10/07/08 7,432,264 10/914,256 10/07/08 7,432,265 11/047,524 10/07/08 7,432,268 11/273,712 10/07/08 7,432,272 11/020,641 10/07/08 7,432,276 11/646,691 10/07/08 7,432,281 10/961,483 10/07/08 7,432,282 10/535,916 10/07/08 7,432,286 10/088,074 10/07/08 7,432,290 10/997,810 10/07/08 7,432,292 10/749,121 10/07/08 7,432,296 11/202,037 10/07/08 7,432,297 11/330,287 10/07/08 7,432,303 11/074,545 10/07/08 7,432,315 10/664,895 10/07/08 7,432,317 10/540,150 10/07/08 7,432,318 11/011,424 10/07/08 7,432,324 11/094,413 10/07/08 7,432,346 10/334,561 10/07/08 7,432,349 10/502,431 10/07/08 7,432,350 10/633,835 10/07/08 7,432,353 11/492,618 10/07/08 7,432,359 12/053,461 10/07/08 7,432,364 11/504,527 10/07/08 7,432,365 10/048,071 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 308|
7,432,367 11/132,838 10/07/08 7,432,368 11/109,873 10/07/08 7,432,369 11/090,447 10/07/08 7,432,371 10/359,894 10/07/08 7,432,373 11/165,875 10/07/08 7,432,389 11/370,073 10/07/08 7,432,392 11/362,375 10/07/08 7,432,396 11/630,344 10/07/08 7,432,398 10/580,136 10/07/08 7,432,399 10/979,843 10/07/08 7,432,403 10/525,781 10/07/08 7,432,418 11/519,184 10/07/08 7,432,421 11/679,895 10/07/08 7,432,429 11/261,528 10/07/08 7,432,439 10/552,511 10/07/08 7,432,444 11/879,947 10/07/08 7,432,449 11/543,805 10/07/08 7,432,454 12/045,203 10/07/08 7,432,455 11/407,877 10/07/08 7,432,457 11/365,338 10/07/08 7,432,465 11/508,945 10/07/08 7,432,467 11/691,803 10/07/08 7,432,468 11/694,102 10/07/08 7,432,472 10/555,162 10/07/08 7,432,473 10/949,445 10/07/08 7,432,482 11/051,671 10/07/08 7,432,487 11/890,799 10/07/08 7,432,502 10/543,492 10/07/08 7,432,510 11/497,076 10/07/08 7,432,520 11/513,044 10/07/08 7,432,526 11/314,881 10/07/08 7,432,532 11/496,934 10/07/08 7,432,535 11/372,059 10/07/08 7,432,541 11/318,480 10/07/08 7,432,542 11/443,430 10/07/08 7,432,545 11/231,767 10/07/08 7,432,570 11/635,040 10/07/08 7,432,571 11/553,283 10/07/08 7,432,579 10/959,201 10/07/08 7,432,582 11/012,603 10/07/08 7,432,591 12/039,555 10/07/08 7,432,593 11/040,515 10/07/08 7,432,604 11/204,264 10/07/08 7,432,607 11/636,888 10/07/08 7,432,608 10/489,313 10/07/08 7,432,611 11/302,054 10/07/08 7,432,612 11/715,003 10/07/08 7,432,617 11/415,417 10/07/08 7,432,619 11/789,893 10/07/08 7,432,621 11/709,287 10/07/08 7,432,623 11/205,264 10/07/08 7,432,624 10/525,973 10/07/08 7,432,626 11/346,902 10/07/08 7,432,632 11/704,275 10/07/08 7,432,635 11/093,796 10/07/08 7,432,637 11/757,714 10/07/08 7,432,644 11/044,102 10/07/08 7,432,646 11/432,533 10/07/08 7,432,652 11/060,735 10/07/08 7,432,653 11/639,432 10/07/08 7,432,654 11/165,507 10/07/08 7,432,655 11/390,064 10/07/08 7,432,656 10/533,605 10/07/08 7,432,657 11/172,651 10/07/08 7,432,664 11/536,948 10/07/08 7,432,666 11/985,762 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 309|
7,432,677 11/014,348 10/07/08 7,432,685 11/759,738 10/07/08 7,432,702 11/321,297 10/07/08 7,432,704 11/423,296 10/07/08 7,432,705 10/704,743 10/07/08 7,432,709 10/597,125 10/07/08 7,432,726 10/553,064 10/07/08 7,432,727 11/080,601 10/07/08 7,432,742 10/805,979 10/07/08 7,432,743 11/154,216 10/07/08 7,432,746 11/495,882 10/07/08 7,432,750 11/296,786 10/07/08 7,432,756 11/498,502 10/07/08 7,432,761 11/658,102 10/07/08 7,432,768 10/572,901 10/07/08 7,432,776 10/890,054 10/07/08 7,432,795 11/702,761 10/07/08 7,432,797 11/244,362 10/07/08 7,432,806 11/744,729 10/07/08 7,432,821 11/268,402 10/07/08 7,432,822 11/386,945 10/07/08 7,432,830 11/260,042 10/07/08 7,432,832 11/646,390 10/07/08 7,432,843 11/831,840 10/07/08 7,432,847 11/143,315 10/07/08 7,432,849 11/655,935 10/07/08 7,432,861 11/560,859 10/07/08 7,432,863 11/604,773 10/07/08 7,432,877 10/962,658 10/07/08 7,432,881 10/903,274 10/07/08 7,432,882 10/563,943 10/07/08 7,432,883 10/764,538 10/07/08 7,432,884 11/370,940 10/07/08 7,432,886 10/391,369 10/07/08 7,432,896 10/980,526 10/07/08 7,432,903 10/983,650 10/07/08 7,432,905 10/818,390 10/07/08 7,432,907 10/530,317 10/07/08 7,432,908 10/720,186 10/07/08 7,432,912 11/080,661 10/07/08 7,432,921 11/045,392 10/07/08 7,432,926 11/273,495 10/07/08 7,432,932 09/855,641 10/07/08 7,432,940 10/268,778 10/07/08 7,432,945 11/290,571 10/07/08 7,432,948 10/383,766 10/07/08 7,432,950 10/493,510 10/07/08 7,432,952 09/970,647 10/07/08 7,432,978 10/483,626 10/07/08 7,432,979 10/932,622 10/07/08 7,432,980 11/197,447 10/07/08 7,432,983 10/705,957 10/07/08 7,432,990 10/961,444 10/07/08 7,432,991 10/677,393 10/07/08 7,432,996 10/545,028 10/07/08 7,433,002 10/587,560 10/07/08 7,433,020 11/186,879 10/07/08 7,433,023 11/230,981 10/07/08 7,433,025 10/480,477 10/07/08 7,433,035 10/234,580 10/07/08 7,433,044 11/145,164 10/07/08 7,433,046 10/933,795 10/07/08 7,433,049 11/378,013 10/07/08 7,433,053 10/215,943 10/07/08 7,433,058 10/888,507 10/07/08 7,433,062 09/922,647 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 310|
7,433,069 10/849,988 10/07/08 7,433,070 11/171,231 10/07/08 7,433,071 10/755,279 10/07/08 7,433,072 10/991,420 10/07/08 7,433,074 10/815,306 10/07/08 7,433,075 09/942,995 10/07/08 7,433,091 10/720,217 10/07/08 7,433,097 10/418,932 10/07/08 7,433,099 10/425,258 10/07/08 7,433,100 10/448,596 10/07/08 7,433,102 10/974,888 10/07/08 7,433,106 11/213,762 10/07/08 7,433,109 11/956,554 10/07/08 7,433,110 11/517,328 10/07/08 7,433,111 10/523,122 10/07/08 7,433,121 11/513,524 10/07/08 7,433,126 10/489,152 10/07/08 7,433,130 11/755,949 10/07/08 7,433,131 10/569,232 10/07/08 7,433,134 11/402,440 10/07/08 7,433,136 11/581,739 10/07/08 7,433,137 11/583,838 10/07/08 7,433,142 11/346,391 10/07/08 7,433,144 09/779,912 10/07/08 7,433,146 11/619,087 10/07/08 7,433,148 11/695,135 10/07/08 7,433,151 11/022,820 10/07/08 7,433,158 11/201,435 10/07/08 7,433,161 11/034,386 10/07/08 7,433,163 11/353,341 10/07/08 7,433,164 11/542,117 10/07/08 7,433,168 10/399,590 10/07/08 7,433,177 11/259,261 10/07/08 7,433,178 10/992,216 10/07/08 7,433,179 11/196,462 10/07/08 7,433,180 11/342,878 10/07/08 7,433,181 10/732,129 10/07/08 7,433,184 11/080,640 10/07/08 7,433,185 11/267,490 10/07/08 7,433,190 11/544,175 10/07/08 7,433,196 10/825,713 10/07/08 7,433,201 10/765,772 10/07/08 7,433,205 11/013,806 10/07/08 7,433,230 11/411,938 10/07/08 7,433,237 11/458,854 10/07/08 7,433,240 11/479,342 10/07/08 7,433,242 11/297,453 10/07/08 7,433,248 11/701,120 10/07/08 7,433,259 11/507,600 10/07/08 7,433,261 11/251,683 10/07/08 7,433,264 11/083,669 10/07/08 7,433,268 11/805,064 10/07/08 7,433,281 11/754,726 10/07/08 7,433,282 10/820,760 10/07/08 7,433,288 10/813,174 10/07/08 7,433,291 10/956,132 10/07/08 7,433,293 10/555,066 10/07/08 7,433,294 10/628,468 10/07/08 7,433,296 10/447,154 10/07/08 7,433,310 10/750,130 10/07/08 7,433,316 10/368,426 10/07/08 7,433,321 10/414,578 10/07/08 7,433,338 10/453,728 10/07/08 7,433,341 10/399,267 10/07/08 7,433,347 10/187,062 10/07/08 7,433,351 10/153,512 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 311|
7,433,352 10/900,382 10/07/08 7,433,356 10/845,499 10/07/08 7,433,374 11/643,114 10/07/08 7,433,381 10/606,104 10/07/08 7,433,388 11/285,852 10/07/08 7,433,395 10/773,054 10/07/08 7,433,405 11/932,143 10/07/08 7,433,407 10/950,601 10/07/08 7,433,408 10/834,264 10/07/08 7,433,410 09/971,299 10/07/08 7,433,424 09/670,869 10/07/08 7,433,427 11/000,212 10/07/08 7,433,432 11/027,102 10/07/08 7,433,448 10/564,078 10/07/08 7,433,453 10/585,636 10/07/08 7,433,454 10/392,816 10/07/08 7,433,457 11/393,593 10/07/08 7,433,461 10/148,069 10/07/08 7,433,468 10/905,424 10/07/08 7,433,471 10/523,193 10/07/08 7,433,475 10/992,696 10/07/08 7,433,494 10/662,401 10/07/08 7,433,499 10/924,301 10/07/08 7,433,506 11/717,667 10/07/08 7,433,508 10/797,011 10/07/08 7,433,511 10/688,601 10/07/08 7,433,512 10/983,704 10/07/08 7,433,513 11/030,795 10/07/08 7,433,514 11/180,768 10/07/08 7,433,515 10/673,292 10/07/08 7,433,516 11/070,781 10/07/08 7,433,521 10/890,023 10/07/08 7,433,523 10/716,969 10/07/08 7,433,526 10/137,773 10/07/08 7,433,528 11/172,792 10/07/08 7,433,529 10/772,691 10/07/08 7,433,531 10/468,981 10/07/08 7,433,532 10/428,320 10/07/08 7,433,537 10/170,562 10/07/08 7,433,538 10/462,704 10/07/08 7,433,541 10/830,668 10/07/08 7,433,542 11/019,109 10/07/08 7,433,543 11/191,033 10/07/08 7,433,554 10/589,604 10/07/08 7,433,558 11/978,905 10/07/08 7,433,576 10/804,167 10/07/08 7,433,579 10/930,249 10/07/08 7,433,582 10/180,361 10/07/08 7,433,583 10/848,161 10/07/08 7,433,587 11/129,852 10/07/08 7,433,599 10/446,694 10/07/08 7,433,600 09/960,405 10/07/08 7,433,603 10/319,052 10/07/08 7,433,609 11/313,639 10/07/08 7,433,610 11/397,490 10/07/08 7,433,612 11/246,926 10/07/08 7,433,613 10/520,187 10/07/08 7,433,614 11/830,611 10/07/08 7,433,617 11/476,753 10/07/08 7,433,620 11/177,283 10/07/08 7,433,621 11/470,702 10/07/08 7,433,623 11/148,745 10/07/08 7,433,624 11/342,045 10/07/08 7,433,626 11/692,559 10/07/08 7,433,631 11/314,894 10/07/08 7,433,634 11/201,319 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 312|
7,433,635 10/884,687 10/07/08 7,433,636 10/884,688 10/07/08 7,433,640 11/374,008 10/07/08 7,433,644 11/338,547 10/07/08 7,433,647 11/127,560 10/07/08 7,433,656 11/327,955 10/07/08 7,433,663 11/139,343 10/07/08 7,433,676 10/534,760 10/07/08 7,433,679 10/489,164 10/07/08 7,433,680 10/762,622 10/07/08 7,433,684 10/885,986 10/07/08 7,433,689 10/315,619 10/07/08 7,433,690 10/736,309 10/07/08 7,433,699 10/795,317 10/07/08 7,433,703 11/153,924 10/07/08 7,433,704 11/058,273 10/07/08 7,433,709 10/412,813 10/07/08 7,433,719 11/145,370 10/07/08 7,433,720 11/283,625 10/07/08 7,433,721 10/653,945 10/07/08 7,433,722 11/175,432 10/07/08 7,433,730 10/799,560 10/07/08 7,433,735 10/532,790 10/07/08 7,433,742 11/118,169 10/07/08 7,433,747 11/488,323 10/07/08 7,433,749 11/275,761 10/07/08 7,433,756 10/987,956 10/07/08 7,433,759 10/898,301 10/07/08 7,433,769 10/713,354 10/07/08 7,433,778 10/598,409 10/07/08 7,433,779 10/578,300 10/07/08 7,433,786 11/657,658 10/07/08 7,433,793 11/334,371 10/07/08 7,433,797 11/308,314 10/07/08 7,433,799 10/715,877 10/07/08 7,433,800 11/309,030 10/07/08 7,433,805 11/599,123 10/07/08 7,433,815 10/660,468 10/07/08 7,433,820 10/844,093 10/07/08 7,433,856 10/669,722 10/07/08 7,433,857 10/699,373 10/07/08 7,433,860 10/634,456 10/07/08 7,433,868 09/547,284 10/07/08 7,433,871 10/504,703 10/07/08 7,433,877 11/249,938 10/07/08 7,433,881 10/007,731 10/07/08 7,433,890 10/237,979 10/07/08 7,433,899 10/790,609 10/07/08 7,433,903 11/294,711 10/07/08 7,433,906 10/416,638 10/07/08 7,433,907 10/986,624 10/07/08 7,433,914 09/952,333 10/07/08 7,433,916 10/254,573 10/07/08 7,433,919 10/658,810 10/07/08 7,433,921 10/722,051 10/07/08 7,433,923 10/491,759 10/07/08 7,433,927 11/088,083 10/07/08 7,433,930 10/690,016 10/07/08 7,433,945 10/410,856 10/07/08 7,433,954 10/927,643 10/07/08 7,433,955 10/301,055 10/07/08 7,433,957 09/845,596 10/07/08 7,433,965 10/384,604 10/07/08 7,433,978 11/066,250 10/07/08 7,433,987 11/136,595 10/07/08 7,433,989 11/132,180 10/07/08
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 313|
7,433,991 11/260,294 10/07/08 7,434,008 10/831,050 10/07/08 7,434,011 11/204,437 10/07/08 7,434,037 11/399,979 10/07/08 7,434,040 11/188,614 10/07/08 7,434,049 10/343,112 10/07/08 7,434,050 10/733,713 10/07/08 7,434,057 11/043,072 10/07/08 7,434,060 11/256,491 10/07/08 7,434,065 10/702,326 10/07/08 7,434,074 11/778,389 10/07/08 7,434,082 11/240,290 10/07/08 7,434,085 11/240,237 10/07/08 7,434,089 10/917,035 10/07/08 7,434,098 11/042,981 10/07/08 7,434,104 11/094,918 10/07/08 7,434,112 11/308,571 10/07/08 7,434,117 11/163,723 10/07/08 7,434,120 11/323,382 10/07/08 7,434,121 11/443,493 10/07/08 7,434,125 11/415,443 10/07/08 7,434,127 11/289,109 10/07/08 7,434,129 11/859,834 10/07/08 7,434,138 11/167,478 10/07/08 7,434,157 10/731,597 10/07/08 7,434,158 10/732,007 10/07/08 7,434,175 10/614,394 10/07/08 7,434,179 11/284,138 10/07/08 7,434,180 10/995,777 10/07/08 7,434,182 11/181,442 10/07/08 7,434,183 11/206,714 10/07/08 7,434,184 11/450,701 10/07/08 7,434,185 11/535,789 10/07/08 7,434,186 11/948,761 10/07/08 7,434,190 11/473,345 10/07/08 7,434,198 11/323,401 10/07/08 7,434,201 10/872,708 10/07/08 7,434,205 11/061,113 10/07/08 7,434,212 10/882,575 10/07/08 7,434,214 10/761,991 10/07/08 7,434,215 10/660,014 10/07/08 7,434,219 09/882,438 10/07/08 7,434,233 10/887,781 10/07/08 7,434,236 11/153,611 10/07/08 7,434,238 11/368,682 10/07/08 7,434,239 11/308,843 10/07/08 7,434,245 09/431,437 10/07/08 7,434,249 10/852,285 10/07/08 7,434,250 10/467,763 10/07/08 PATENTS WHICH EXPIRED ON October 9, 2016 DUE TO FAILURE TO PAY MAINTENANCE FEES Patent Application Issue Number Number Date 8,281,416 12/775,860 10/09/12 8,281,418 11/820,616 10/09/12 8,281,419 12/250,323 10/09/12 8,281,425 11/163,860 10/09/12 8,281,447 12/804,927 10/09/12 8,281,449 13/050,245 10/09/12 8,281,454 12/660,007 10/09/12 8,281,457 12/464,385 10/09/12 8,281,462 12/532,433 10/09/12 8,281,464 12/814,538 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 314|
8,281,468 12/868,301 10/09/12 8,281,476 12/810,274 10/09/12 8,281,484 12/980,197 10/09/12 8,281,489 12/176,929 10/09/12 8,281,500 12/605,655 10/09/12 8,281,509 12/854,442 10/09/12 8,281,510 12/996,468 10/09/12 8,281,515 12/824,948 10/09/12 8,281,516 11/033,024 10/09/12 8,281,522 12/887,255 10/09/12 8,281,528 12/750,134 10/09/12 8,281,536 12/709,637 10/09/12 8,281,545 12/245,897 10/09/12 8,281,546 12/752,479 10/09/12 8,281,548 13/222,224 10/09/12 8,281,550 12/928,535 10/09/12 8,281,565 12/580,399 10/09/12 8,281,567 11/995,112 10/09/12 8,281,575 12/222,006 10/09/12 8,281,582 12/315,975 10/09/12 8,281,583 12/297,410 10/09/12 8,281,590 12/333,683 10/09/12 8,281,595 12/128,231 10/09/12 8,281,605 12/420,510 10/09/12 8,281,612 12/422,431 10/09/12 8,281,616 13/152,383 10/09/12 8,281,622 12/068,458 10/09/12 8,281,629 12/812,695 10/09/12 8,281,641 12/462,937 10/09/12 8,281,643 12/677,982 10/09/12 8,281,647 12/457,856 10/09/12 8,281,653 12/805,178 10/09/12 8,281,671 12/523,378 10/09/12 8,281,687 12/169,036 10/09/12 8,281,689 13/509,205 10/09/12 8,281,695 12/440,114 10/09/12 8,281,698 12/687,900 10/09/12 8,281,700 12/425,703 10/09/12 8,281,701 13/186,823 10/09/12 8,281,706 12/517,173 10/09/12 8,281,707 12/295,426 10/09/12 8,281,708 12/014,176 10/09/12 8,281,709 12/862,652 10/09/12 8,281,714 12/083,176 10/09/12 8,281,716 12/343,481 10/09/12 8,281,718 12/651,208 10/09/12 8,281,720 12/887,590 10/09/12 8,281,732 12/562,376 10/09/12 8,281,733 12/538,529 10/09/12 8,281,734 12/299,131 10/09/12 8,281,747 12/978,737 10/09/12 8,281,767 12/600,374 10/09/12 8,281,770 12/226,770 10/09/12 8,281,771 12/706,223 10/09/12 8,281,773 12/773,564 10/09/12 8,281,776 12/844,655 10/09/12 8,281,777 12/369,618 10/09/12 8,281,795 12/525,684 10/09/12 8,281,811 12/449,365 10/09/12 8,281,814 12/065,724 10/09/12 8,281,822 12/374,221 10/09/12 8,281,827 12/266,350 10/09/12 8,281,832 11/498,184 10/09/12 8,281,833 12/382,668 10/09/12 8,281,836 12/097,010 10/09/12 8,281,837 12/414,344 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 315|
8,281,838 13/339,657 10/09/12 8,281,845 12/309,839 10/09/12 8,281,846 12/738,993 10/09/12 8,281,848 12/008,968 10/09/12 8,281,849 12/066,767 10/09/12 8,281,866 12/726,044 10/09/12 8,281,869 13/013,371 10/09/12 8,281,870 12/846,872 10/09/12 8,281,880 12/836,564 10/09/12 8,281,889 12/701,145 10/09/12 8,281,892 12/408,098 10/09/12 8,281,893 13/001,722 10/09/12 8,281,905 12/603,252 10/09/12 8,281,907 11/987,647 10/09/12 8,281,913 12/302,703 10/09/12 8,281,921 12/523,735 10/09/12 8,281,941 12/444,438 10/09/12 8,281,950 12/691,164 10/09/12 8,281,960 12/574,122 10/09/12 8,281,962 12/225,806 10/09/12 8,281,963 12/700,911 10/09/12 8,281,968 12/459,149 10/09/12 8,281,969 12/022,031 10/09/12 8,281,982 11/842,948 10/09/12 8,281,999 10/837,891 10/09/12 8,282,015 11/741,394 10/09/12 8,282,016 12/539,592 10/09/12 8,282,026 12/546,074 10/09/12 8,282,027 12/303,073 10/09/12 8,282,028 12/293,242 10/09/12 8,282,034 13/274,634 10/09/12 8,282,036 12/653,489 10/09/12 8,282,050 12/543,642 10/09/12 8,282,054 12/548,069 10/09/12 8,282,057 12/799,492 10/09/12 8,282,060 12/831,433 10/09/12 8,282,062 12/149,105 10/09/12 8,282,064 12/779,126 10/09/12 8,282,065 13/178,113 10/09/12 8,282,072 12/668,611 10/09/12 8,282,076 12/227,254 10/09/12 8,282,079 12/700,497 10/09/12 8,282,090 12/986,913 10/09/12 8,282,096 12/753,242 10/09/12 8,282,098 11/849,983 10/09/12 8,282,103 12/830,824 10/09/12 8,282,108 12/727,479 10/09/12 8,282,109 12/769,187 10/09/12 8,282,115 12/775,854 10/09/12 8,282,117 13/023,572 10/09/12 8,282,118 12/840,046 10/09/12 8,282,119 12/317,519 10/09/12 8,282,121 12/822,264 10/09/12 8,282,125 12/859,529 10/09/12 8,282,127 12/584,369 10/09/12 8,282,130 12/735,015 10/09/12 8,282,143 12/868,925 10/09/12 8,282,144 12/506,758 10/09/12 8,282,147 12/466,725 10/09/12 8,282,154 12/746,278 10/09/12 8,282,155 12/845,334 10/09/12 8,282,162 11/917,079 10/09/12 8,282,171 13/083,861 10/09/12 8,282,184 12/815,258 10/09/12 8,282,199 12/672,053 10/09/12 8,282,205 12/041,850 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 316|
8,282,207 12/783,517 10/09/12 8,282,221 12/228,728 10/09/12 8,282,227 13/252,194 10/09/12 8,282,230 13/070,309 10/09/12 8,282,235 12/456,573 10/09/12 8,282,236 12/720,697 10/09/12 8,282,237 12/733,830 10/09/12 8,282,240 12/486,734 10/09/12 8,282,254 12/877,049 10/09/12 8,282,257 11/572,879 10/09/12 8,282,258 12/757,345 10/09/12 8,282,274 12/459,335 10/09/12 8,282,289 12/562,552 10/09/12 8,282,296 12/514,931 10/09/12 8,282,306 12/308,917 10/09/12 8,282,310 12/944,385 10/09/12 8,282,312 12/319,610 10/09/12 8,282,318 13/166,521 10/09/12 8,282,338 12/480,665 10/09/12 8,282,339 12/335,098 10/09/12 8,282,345 12/482,890 10/09/12 8,282,349 12/044,607 10/09/12 8,282,360 12/498,880 10/09/12 8,282,363 12/775,941 10/09/12 8,282,372 12/863,066 10/09/12 8,282,375 13/220,514 10/09/12 8,282,392 13/104,232 10/09/12 8,282,394 12/653,132 10/09/12 8,282,400 12/946,859 10/09/12 8,282,404 13/168,928 10/09/12 8,282,407 13/205,754 10/09/12 8,282,408 13/229,657 10/09/12 8,282,412 13/137,330 10/09/12 8,282,416 13/059,677 10/09/12 8,282,420 12/563,351 10/09/12 8,282,424 13/142,475 10/09/12 8,282,426 12/808,033 10/09/12 8,282,430 12/699,810 10/09/12 8,282,432 13/018,594 10/09/12 8,282,434 12/746,644 10/09/12 8,282,441 12/754,711 10/09/12 8,282,446 12/095,781 10/09/12 8,282,457 12/955,107 10/09/12 8,282,464 12/761,976 10/09/12 8,282,466 11/027,061 10/09/12 8,282,467 11/921,693 10/09/12 8,282,470 12/740,757 10/09/12 8,282,474 12/481,047 10/09/12 8,282,478 12/842,373 10/09/12 8,282,485 12/478,515 10/09/12 8,282,492 12/513,653 10/09/12 8,282,497 11/215,795 10/09/12 8,282,500 12/938,808 10/09/12 8,282,504 13/337,684 10/09/12 8,282,509 12/381,224 10/09/12 8,282,511 12/924,829 10/09/12 8,282,522 12/756,198 10/09/12 8,282,524 12/300,013 10/09/12 8,282,525 12/308,199 10/09/12 8,282,529 12/811,880 10/09/12 8,282,532 12/637,193 10/09/12 8,282,586 12/865,963 10/09/12 8,282,589 13/252,561 10/09/12 8,282,593 12/800,791 10/09/12 8,282,603 12/824,528 10/09/12 8,282,626 12/968,741 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 317|
8,282,630 13/163,694 10/09/12 8,282,650 12/427,394 10/09/12 8,282,665 11/975,901 10/09/12 8,282,671 12/925,567 10/09/12 8,282,677 12/685,637 10/09/12 8,282,681 12/190,974 10/09/12 8,282,687 12/127,504 10/09/12 8,282,693 12/561,554 10/09/12 8,282,695 12/352,860 10/09/12 8,282,697 12/690,393 10/09/12 8,282,699 12/743,112 10/09/12 8,282,703 12/972,589 10/09/12 8,282,705 12/663,765 10/09/12 8,282,706 13/420,831 10/09/12 8,282,713 12/639,509 10/09/12 8,282,726 12/573,940 10/09/12 8,282,741 12/193,823 10/09/12 8,282,742 12/610,580 10/09/12 8,282,750 12/925,931 10/09/12 8,282,762 11/398,749 10/09/12 8,282,764 12/299,044 10/09/12 8,282,767 13/031,839 10/09/12 8,282,772 12/596,640 10/09/12 8,282,775 12/468,260 10/09/12 8,282,785 12/450,040 10/09/12 8,282,786 11/920,482 10/09/12 8,282,796 12/679,114 10/09/12 8,282,802 12/670,372 10/09/12 8,282,808 12/303,006 10/09/12 8,282,810 12/477,307 10/09/12 8,282,818 12/807,059 10/09/12 8,282,822 12/732,222 10/09/12 8,282,830 13/025,232 10/09/12 8,282,836 12/707,463 10/09/12 8,282,841 12/059,643 10/09/12 8,282,848 12/073,048 10/09/12 8,282,853 12/564,483 10/09/12 8,282,855 12/781,869 10/09/12 8,282,856 12/789,468 10/09/12 8,282,872 12/921,081 10/09/12 8,282,873 12/160,101 10/09/12 8,282,884 12/280,963 10/09/12 8,282,888 12/423,034 10/09/12 8,282,903 12/666,029 10/09/12 8,282,904 11/630,182 10/09/12 8,282,907 12/375,991 10/09/12 8,282,909 12/169,764 10/09/12 8,282,914 13/098,641 10/09/12 8,282,917 12/750,410 10/09/12 8,282,921 12/492,040 10/09/12 8,282,923 12/748,486 10/09/12 8,282,931 12/879,740 10/09/12 8,282,935 12/017,421 10/09/12 8,282,972 13/213,818 10/09/12 8,282,985 12/764,607 10/09/12 8,282,990 12/595,434 10/09/12 8,282,992 11/925,681 10/09/12 8,283,000 12/865,022 10/09/12 8,283,023 12/537,816 10/09/12 8,283,025 12/527,585 10/09/12 8,283,033 12/343,439 10/09/12 8,283,034 12/714,440 10/09/12 8,283,040 12/520,873 10/09/12 8,283,060 12/792,030 10/09/12 8,283,063 12/298,946 10/09/12 8,283,065 12/768,812 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 318|
8,283,066 12/571,848 10/09/12 8,283,069 11/727,472 10/09/12 8,283,080 11/046,131 10/09/12 8,283,087 12/919,998 10/09/12 8,283,088 12/311,570 10/09/12 8,283,089 12/328,239 10/09/12 8,283,091 13/200,256 10/09/12 8,283,095 12/438,098 10/09/12 8,283,098 12/605,762 10/09/12 8,283,103 12/673,926 10/09/12 8,283,107 12/133,397 10/09/12 8,283,114 11/917,368 10/09/12 8,283,125 12/682,690 10/09/12 8,283,131 12/259,596 10/09/12 8,283,140 12/734,930 10/09/12 8,283,141 13/270,750 10/09/12 8,283,157 12/999,157 10/09/12 8,283,158 12/587,976 10/09/12 8,283,166 12/305,008 10/09/12 8,283,172 12/711,465 10/09/12 8,283,199 12/624,668 10/09/12 8,283,200 11/746,738 10/09/12 8,283,223 12/789,558 10/09/12 8,283,230 12/797,898 10/09/12 8,283,242 12/707,602 10/09/12 8,283,264 12/954,328 10/09/12 8,283,273 12/751,321 10/09/12 8,283,277 12/675,300 10/09/12 8,283,279 12/987,005 10/09/12 8,283,285 12/448,163 10/09/12 8,283,287 12/208,848 10/09/12 8,283,288 11/795,146 10/09/12 8,283,290 12/596,131 10/09/12 8,283,303 13/060,298 10/09/12 8,283,307 10/570,122 10/09/12 8,283,321 12/580,903 10/09/12 8,283,323 11/724,053 10/09/12 8,283,340 12/771,923 10/09/12 8,283,352 11/922,015 10/09/12 8,283,355 12/312,416 10/09/12 8,283,356 12/686,863 10/09/12 8,283,357 12/795,575 10/09/12 8,283,358 12/554,134 10/09/12 8,283,360 13/139,656 10/09/12 8,283,361 12/477,781 10/09/12 8,283,365 12/936,408 10/09/12 8,283,366 13/004,533 10/09/12 8,283,370 13/122,140 10/09/12 8,283,371 12/686,135 10/09/12 8,283,376 10/585,609 10/09/12 8,283,378 12/718,073 10/09/12 8,283,381 12/656,048 10/09/12 8,283,382 12/788,015 10/09/12 8,283,394 12/190,250 10/09/12 8,283,424 12/933,370 10/09/12 8,283,426 12/918,102 10/09/12 8,283,428 12/488,066 10/09/12 8,283,430 12/525,589 10/09/12 8,283,443 12/500,526 10/09/12 8,283,446 12/850,425 10/09/12 8,283,459 11/974,481 10/09/12 8,283,496 12/680,210 10/09/12 8,283,502 12/740,617 10/09/12 8,283,505 13/344,460 10/09/12 8,283,508 12/671,858 10/09/12 8,283,514 12/582,866 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 319|
8,283,520 12/786,697 10/09/12 8,283,542 12/387,207 10/09/12 8,283,548 13/125,200 10/09/12 8,283,549 13/004,651 10/09/12 8,283,552 12/952,100 10/09/12 8,283,553 12/235,401 10/09/12 8,283,555 13/056,197 10/09/12 8,283,561 12/412,220 10/09/12 8,283,562 12/696,787 10/09/12 8,283,571 12/790,883 10/09/12 8,283,572 12/868,686 10/09/12 8,283,574 13/031,617 10/09/12 8,283,578 12/336,669 10/09/12 8,283,579 12/849,156 10/09/12 8,283,586 12/493,303 10/09/12 8,283,587 12/774,832 10/09/12 8,283,593 12/069,984 10/09/12 8,283,596 12/138,050 10/09/12 8,283,599 12/664,064 10/09/12 8,283,600 12/857,521 10/09/12 8,283,621 12/630,222 10/09/12 8,283,631 12/351,215 10/09/12 8,283,639 12/487,275 10/09/12 8,283,643 12/592,107 10/09/12 8,283,658 12/825,410 10/09/12 8,283,661 13/130,408 10/09/12 8,283,663 11/680,659 10/09/12 8,283,677 12/933,283 10/09/12 8,283,695 13/114,895 10/09/12 8,283,732 12/588,039 10/09/12 8,283,770 13/067,548 10/09/12 8,283,788 12/883,526 10/09/12 8,283,795 12/802,688 10/09/12 8,283,799 13/214,160 10/09/12 8,283,804 12/333,194 10/09/12 8,283,810 12/592,569 10/09/12 8,283,811 13/356,631 10/09/12 8,283,814 12/713,322 10/09/12 8,283,821 12/639,267 10/09/12 8,283,822 12/703,372 10/09/12 8,283,847 10/562,357 10/09/12 8,283,852 12/473,904 10/09/12 8,283,860 13/049,786 10/09/12 8,283,864 13/201,708 10/09/12 8,283,865 12/591,096 10/09/12 8,283,870 12/702,226 10/09/12 8,283,877 13/155,361 10/09/12 8,283,878 12/673,940 10/09/12 8,283,886 12/623,426 10/09/12 8,283,896 12/790,306 10/09/12 8,283,908 12/718,203 10/09/12 8,283,912 12/593,735 10/09/12 8,283,933 12/707,534 10/09/12 8,283,937 12/770,779 10/09/12 8,283,938 12/781,951 10/09/12 8,283,939 12/752,138 10/09/12 8,283,942 12/509,891 10/09/12 8,283,949 12/854,364 10/09/12 8,283,951 12/894,607 10/09/12 8,283,954 13/095,865 10/09/12 8,283,962 12/005,515 10/09/12 8,283,966 12/957,544 10/09/12 8,283,969 12/774,370 10/09/12 8,283,974 12/984,088 10/09/12 8,283,989 12/924,468 10/09/12 8,283,994 12/560,445 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 320|
8,283,999 12/710,640 10/09/12 8,284,004 11/605,286 10/09/12 8,284,011 12/817,563 10/09/12 8,284,021 12/177,366 10/09/12 8,284,023 11/526,925 10/09/12 8,284,024 12/432,979 10/09/12 8,284,027 11/532,649 10/09/12 8,284,035 12/238,705 10/09/12 8,284,050 12/555,544 10/09/12 8,284,069 12/503,306 10/09/12 8,284,072 12/728,451 10/09/12 8,284,097 12/754,744 10/09/12 8,284,109 11/932,675 10/09/12 8,284,133 11/651,570 10/09/12 8,284,143 12/016,460 10/09/12 8,284,153 12/227,299 10/09/12 8,284,160 12/871,933 10/09/12 8,284,168 12/519,869 10/09/12 8,284,174 12/819,292 10/09/12 8,284,195 11/854,617 10/09/12 8,284,213 11/519,881 10/09/12 8,284,237 12/556,298 10/09/12 8,284,238 12/204,417 10/09/12 8,284,249 12/054,717 10/09/12 8,284,260 12/732,525 10/09/12 8,284,262 12/592,025 10/09/12 8,284,267 12/401,903 10/09/12 8,284,268 12/268,533 10/09/12 8,284,279 12/525,059 10/09/12 8,284,281 12/250,720 10/09/12 8,284,287 12/227,503 10/09/12 8,284,289 12/970,012 10/09/12 8,284,290 12/828,228 10/09/12 8,284,294 12/892,722 10/09/12 8,284,302 11/504,244 10/09/12 8,284,304 12/171,894 10/09/12 8,284,315 12/132,963 10/09/12 8,284,320 12/587,886 10/09/12 8,284,323 12/440,713 10/09/12 8,284,324 12/900,288 10/09/12 8,284,328 12/735,492 10/09/12 8,284,329 12/551,426 10/09/12 8,284,344 12/730,393 10/09/12 8,284,357 12/923,616 10/09/12 8,284,363 12/236,868 10/09/12 8,284,372 12/123,861 10/09/12 8,284,398 12/822,497 10/09/12 8,284,406 12/063,860 10/09/12 8,284,408 13/284,931 10/09/12 8,284,409 13/346,282 10/09/12 8,284,418 12/348,449 10/09/12 8,284,428 12/178,637 10/09/12 8,284,437 11/898,616 10/09/12 8,284,440 13/188,283 10/09/12 8,284,458 12/382,234 10/09/12 8,284,461 12/756,963 10/09/12 8,284,471 13/044,841 10/09/12 8,284,472 12/665,069 10/09/12 8,284,474 11/626,792 10/09/12 8,284,476 12/636,040 10/09/12 8,284,479 12/543,415 10/09/12 8,284,486 12/162,483 10/09/12 8,284,488 13/034,729 10/09/12 8,284,499 12/801,415 10/09/12 8,284,504 12/949,235 10/09/12 8,284,508 12/975,882 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 321|
8,284,512 11/889,168 10/09/12 8,284,520 12/921,095 10/09/12 8,284,521 11/998,727 10/09/12 8,284,537 12/849,201 10/09/12 8,284,539 11/832,089 10/09/12 8,284,544 12/713,510 10/09/12 8,284,545 12/790,881 10/09/12 8,284,547 12/156,231 10/09/12 8,284,549 12/785,992 10/09/12 8,284,550 12/693,628 10/09/12 8,284,564 12/697,737 10/09/12 8,284,571 13/025,062 10/09/12 8,284,573 12/690,399 10/09/12 8,284,583 12/501,705 10/09/12 8,284,591 12/696,608 10/09/12 8,284,596 12/135,439 10/09/12 8,284,604 12/719,188 10/09/12 8,284,614 12/979,642 10/09/12 8,284,635 12/348,049 10/09/12 8,284,638 11/915,226 10/09/12 8,284,640 12/414,718 10/09/12 8,284,641 12/585,975 10/09/12 8,284,643 12/951,880 10/09/12 8,284,644 12/938,809 10/09/12 8,284,648 11/940,392 10/09/12 8,284,658 12/593,972 10/09/12 8,284,659 12/414,173 10/09/12 8,284,672 12/330,257 10/09/12 8,284,675 11/476,299 10/09/12 8,284,680 12/717,534 10/09/12 8,284,682 12/122,615 10/09/12 8,284,688 12/493,840 10/09/12 8,284,691 12/637,831 10/09/12 8,284,692 12/670,978 10/09/12 8,284,698 12/135,349 10/09/12 8,284,705 12/543,032 10/09/12 8,284,716 12/162,569 10/09/12 8,284,724 12/457,110 10/09/12 8,284,737 12/552,828 10/09/12 8,284,770 12/481,204 10/09/12 8,284,777 12/090,637 10/09/12 8,284,786 12/691,055 10/09/12 8,284,787 12/307,064 10/09/12 8,284,793 11/364,148 10/09/12 8,284,798 11/783,730 10/09/12 8,284,799 12/200,499 10/09/12 8,284,822 11/679,626 10/09/12 8,284,834 12/479,252 10/09/12 8,284,840 12/641,501 10/09/12 8,284,843 12/255,108 10/09/12 8,284,872 12/687,184 10/09/12 8,284,875 12/688,760 10/09/12 8,284,876 12/298,358 10/09/12 8,284,880 12/005,850 10/09/12 8,284,883 12/594,706 10/09/12 8,284,887 12/656,833 10/09/12 8,284,889 12/385,784 10/09/12 8,284,896 12/588,705 10/09/12 8,284,906 11/615,545 10/09/12 8,284,907 12/346,284 10/09/12 8,284,911 12/653,036 10/09/12 8,284,912 12/623,610 10/09/12 8,284,913 11/766,176 10/09/12 8,284,938 12/604,585 10/09/12 8,284,972 12/421,622 10/09/12 8,284,979 12/637,284 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 322|
8,284,981 13/348,108 10/09/12 8,284,992 12/486,433 10/09/12 8,285,000 12/253,939 10/09/12 8,285,007 12/324,770 10/09/12 8,285,021 12/113,482 10/09/12 8,285,025 12/055,052 10/09/12 8,285,028 12/679,363 10/09/12 8,285,029 12/447,040 10/09/12 8,285,032 12/719,390 10/09/12 8,285,048 13/204,704 10/09/12 8,285,051 12/075,343 10/09/12 8,285,070 12/419,632 10/09/12 8,285,079 12/728,025 10/09/12 8,285,087 12/227,995 10/09/12 8,285,089 13/369,546 10/09/12 8,285,095 12/830,462 10/09/12 8,285,106 11/888,042 10/09/12 8,285,116 12/480,066 10/09/12 8,285,117 12/533,514 10/09/12 8,285,119 11/497,416 10/09/12 8,285,123 11/550,514 10/09/12 8,285,132 13/095,732 10/09/12 8,285,138 12/518,767 10/09/12 8,285,143 12/284,247 10/09/12 8,285,146 11/658,434 10/09/12 8,285,147 12/512,407 10/09/12 8,285,159 12/482,666 10/09/12 8,285,160 12/131,656 10/09/12 8,285,166 13/302,402 10/09/12 8,285,170 12/682,862 10/09/12 8,285,180 12/886,869 10/09/12 8,285,195 12/467,892 10/09/12 8,285,201 12/609,505 10/09/12 8,285,205 11/286,555 10/09/12 8,285,211 12/926,716 10/09/12 8,285,214 12/400,183 10/09/12 8,285,219 12/778,237 10/09/12 8,285,221 12/550,432 10/09/12 8,285,241 12/461,069 10/09/12 8,285,242 11/227,945 10/09/12 8,285,259 11/754,528 10/09/12 8,285,268 11/588,061 10/09/12 8,285,271 13/136,934 10/09/12 8,285,274 12/817,189 10/09/12 8,285,275 12/866,253 10/09/12 8,285,298 12/646,809 10/09/12 8,285,299 11/272,314 10/09/12 8,285,301 12/373,033 10/09/12 8,285,304 12/669,853 10/09/12 8,285,308 12/436,027 10/09/12 8,285,315 13/152,197 10/09/12 8,285,333 12/094,546 10/09/12 8,285,345 12/549,709 10/09/12 8,285,349 12/514,791 10/09/12 8,285,353 12/445,212 10/09/12 8,285,366 11/973,357 10/09/12 8,285,367 11/973,367 10/09/12 8,285,392 12/142,020 10/09/12 8,285,393 11/243,141 10/09/12 8,285,396 12/651,597 10/09/12 8,285,402 12/172,286 10/09/12 8,285,403 10/978,931 10/09/12 8,285,406 12/463,672 10/09/12 8,285,418 12/834,220 10/09/12 8,285,425 11/629,148 10/09/12 8,285,445 12/765,136 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 323|
8,285,454 12/475,497 10/09/12 8,285,457 13/097,254 10/09/12 8,285,464 12/444,998 10/09/12 8,285,466 12/503,107 10/09/12 8,285,501 12/691,178 10/09/12 8,285,503 13/305,363 10/09/12 8,285,509 12/715,652 10/09/12 8,285,529 12/394,273 10/09/12 8,285,530 12/579,645 10/09/12 8,285,536 12/533,519 10/09/12 8,285,547 11/395,235 10/09/12 8,285,551 13/410,080 10/09/12 8,285,553 13/364,194 10/09/12 8,285,561 13/108,987 10/09/12 8,285,563 13/332,687 10/09/12 8,285,572 12/172,241 10/09/12 8,285,574 12/721,706 10/09/12 8,285,576 12/609,642 10/09/12 8,285,579 10/932,703 10/09/12 8,285,581 12/140,846 10/09/12 8,285,587 12/577,535 10/09/12 8,285,593 12/916,103 10/09/12 8,285,595 11/392,054 10/09/12 8,285,603 12/778,092 10/09/12 8,285,617 12/797,449 10/09/12 8,285,623 12/792,270 10/09/12 8,285,631 12/478,986 10/09/12 8,285,639 11/994,977 10/09/12 8,285,647 12/547,051 10/09/12 8,285,649 12/565,050 10/09/12 8,285,660 12/479,271 10/09/12 8,285,662 12/362,230 10/09/12 8,285,669 12/433,528 10/09/12 8,285,670 12/177,507 10/09/12 8,285,677 11/427,930 10/09/12 8,285,680 12/350,840 10/09/12 8,285,707 11/557,601 10/09/12 8,285,708 12/485,054 10/09/12 8,285,710 12/248,170 10/09/12 8,285,711 12/624,675 10/09/12 8,285,713 12/206,147 10/09/12 8,285,715 12/542,611 10/09/12 8,285,716 12/643,773 10/09/12 8,285,722 12/512,962 10/09/12 8,285,734 12/260,215 10/09/12 8,285,736 12/365,996 10/09/12 8,285,739 11/191,469 10/09/12 8,285,743 10/179,316 10/09/12 8,285,753 12/061,794 10/09/12 8,285,754 12/428,094 10/09/12 8,285,755 11/249,217 10/09/12 8,285,762 12/778,075 10/09/12 8,285,763 12/339,871 10/09/12 8,285,773 12/226,651 10/09/12 8,285,774 12/177,168 10/09/12 8,285,775 12/603,681 10/09/12 8,285,776 11/757,091 10/09/12 8,285,778 12/491,647 10/09/12 8,285,779 12/701,793 10/09/12 8,285,780 12/791,484 10/09/12 8,285,781 13/230,124 10/09/12 8,285,782 13/242,921 10/09/12 8,285,783 10/380,715 10/09/12 8,285,786 12/201,107 10/09/12 8,285,790 12/238,529 10/09/12 8,285,791 12/604,982 10/09/12
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 324|
8,285,796 12/346,201 10/09/12 8,285,798 12/759,407 10/09/12 8,285,810 12/104,675 10/09/12 8,285,811 12/104,684 10/09/12 8,285,815 13/007,052 10/09/12 8,285,822 12/604,738 10/09/12 8,285,825 10/293,827 10/09/12 8,285,828 12/052,139 10/09/12 8,285,856 11/252,544 10/09/12 8,285,863 12/529,264 10/09/12 8,285,872 13/356,262 10/09/12 8,285,873 12/560,380 10/09/12 8,285,876 10/804,644 10/09/12 8,285,881 10/938,156 10/09/12 8,285,883 11/682,360 10/09/12 8,285,889 12/789,741 10/09/12 8,285,897 11/271,799 10/09/12 8,285,898 13/108,205 10/09/12 8,285,915 12/686,681 10/09/12 8,285,924 08/364,334 10/09/12 8,285,934 13/324,206 10/09/12 8,285,950 12/792,850 10/09/12 8,285,954 12/530,467 10/09/12 8,285,960 13/077,122 10/09/12 8,285,971 12/336,315 10/09/12 8,285,974 11/830,727 10/09/12 8,285,981 11/821,859 10/09/12 8,285,995 10/828,956 10/09/12 8,286,001 12/173,112 10/09/12 8,286,009 12/551,116 10/09/12 8,286,026 13/372,209 10/09/12 8,286,039 13/340,552 10/09/12 8,286,041 12/654,267 10/09/12 8,286,052 12/469,982 10/09/12 8,286,053 12/219,727 10/09/12 8,286,060 12/182,443 10/09/12 8,286,061 12/472,519 10/09/12 8,286,063 12/988,643 10/09/12 8,286,073 12/406,008 10/09/12 8,286,076 13/169,508 10/09/12 8,286,084 12/480,421 10/09/12 8,286,091 12/008,753 10/09/12 8,286,092 10/965,187 10/09/12 8,286,094 11/475,884 10/09/12 8,286,097 12/611,472 10/09/12 8,286,121 12/623,027 10/09/12 8,286,122 12/801,548 10/09/12 8,286,132 12/238,080 10/09/12 8,286,134 12/173,107 10/09/12 8,286,136 12/504,517 10/09/12 8,286,139 12/051,265 10/09/12 8,286,141 12/404,077 10/09/12 8,286,143 11/939,536 10/09/12 8,286,146 12/128,960 10/09/12 8,286,147 12/404,421 10/09/12 8,286,152 11/842,986 10/09/12 8,286,159 11/428,374 10/09/12 8,286,164 12/537,808 10/09/12 8,286,178 12/491,012 10/09/12 8,286,185 12/873,639 10/09/12 8,286,186 12/102,492 10/09/12 8,286,194 12/273,802 10/09/12 8,286,200 12/040,182 10/09/12 8,286,204 10/980,290 10/09/12 8,286,210 12/496,737 10/09/12 8,286,211 12/554,027 10/09/12 8,286,215 12/246,161 10/09/12 8,286,222 12/056,254 10/09/12 8,286,226 12/693,417 10/09/12 8,286,229 11/420,017 10/09/12 8,286,235 11/832,772 10/09/12 8,286,250 13/297,982 10/09/12
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 325|
|Patents Reinstated Due to the Acceptance of a Late Maintenance Fee from 10/31/2016|
Patents Reinstated Due to the Acceptance of a Late Maintenance Fee from 10/31/2016 Patent Application Filing Issue Granted Number Number Date Date Date 6,475,511 09/945,997 09/04/2001 11/05/2002 11/03/2016 6,708,946 09/787,188 06/07/2001 03/23/2004 11/03/2016 6,767,390 10/178,989 06/25/2002 07/27/2004 11/03/2016 6,773,569 10/142,719 05/08/2002 08/10/2004 10/31/2016 6,799,295 10/248,245 12/30/2002 09/28/2004 11/04/2016 6,802,646 10/094,149 03/07/2002 10/12/2004 11/03/2016 7,185,114 09/632,844 08/04/2000 02/27/2007 11/02/2016 7,194,832 10/776,175 02/12/2004 03/27/2007 11/04/2016 7,197,046 09/649,088 08/07/2000 03/27/2007 11/02/2016 7,201,026 11/218,643 09/06/2005 04/10/2007 10/31/2016 7,252,664 10/846,260 05/14/2004 08/07/2007 11/01/2016 7,331,960 10/980,699 11/03/2004 02/19/2008 11/01/2016 7,334,514 10/911,241 08/05/2004 02/26/2008 11/04/2016 7,367,977 10/377,094 02/28/2003 05/06/2008 11/06/2016 7,369,321 11/653,735 01/16/2007 05/06/2008 11/01/2016 7,393,335 11/120,503 05/03/2005 07/01/2008 11/02/2016 7,408,476 11/010,033 12/11/2004 08/05/2008 11/03/2016 7,412,487 10/288,596 11/06/2002 08/12/2008 11/03/2016 7,427,654 10/964,480 04/22/2005 09/23/2008 11/01/2016 7,441,609 11/263,639 10/31/2005 10/28/2008 11/03/2016 7,444,407 10/811,058 03/26/2004 10/28/2008 10/31/2016 7,726,496 11/387,084 03/20/2006 06/01/2010 11/04/2016 7,739,965 11/387,081 03/20/2006 06/22/2010 10/31/2016 7,753,222 11/645,256 11/20/2006 07/13/2010 10/31/2016 7,865,286 12/799,721 05/01/2010 01/04/2011 10/31/2016 7,879,240 11/884,683 08/20/2007 02/01/2011 11/04/2016 7,987,820 12/313,601 11/21/2008 08/02/2011 10/31/2016 8,010,638 11/906,837 10/04/2007 08/30/2011 10/31/2016 8,078,368 12/949,521 11/18/2010 12/13/2011 10/31/2016 8,099,345 11/866,498 10/03/2007 01/17/2012 11/04/2016 8,112,821 12/151,123 05/05/2008 02/14/2012 10/31/2016 8,146,921 12/711,705 02/24/2010 04/03/2012 11/04/2016 8,178,709 12/506,408 07/21/2009 05/15/2012 11/02/2016 8,181,599 13/044,389 03/09/2011 05/22/2012 11/03/2016 8,185,430 12/363,145 01/30/2009 05/22/2012 11/04/2016 8,210,464 12/786,715 05/25/2010 07/03/2012 11/01/2016 8,216,237 12/478,576 06/04/2009 07/10/2012 11/01/2016 8,234,275 13/184,448 07/15/2011 07/31/2012 10/31/2016 8,261,494 12/747,020 06/09/2010 09/11/2012 11/03/2016 8,268,472 12/569,987 09/30/2009 09/18/2012 10/31/2016 8,282,644 12/015,933 01/17/2008 10/09/2012 11/01/2016
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 326|
|Reissue Applications Filed|
Reissue Applications Filed Notice under 37 CFR 1.11(b). The reissue applications listed below are open to public inspection by the general public through the Image File Wrapper (IFW) system (http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/pair) on the USPTO internet web site (www.uspto.gov), and copies may be obtained by paying the fee therefor (37 CFR 1.19). RE. 46,125, Re. S.N.: 15,208,233, Jul. 12, 2016, Cl.: 709/247, RELOCATING CONTEXT INFORMATION IN HEADER COMPRESSION, Juha KALLIOKULJU, et al, Owner of Record: Core Wireless Licensing S.a.r.l., Luxembourg, LUXEMBOURG, Attorney or Agent: Do Hyung Kim, Ex. Gp.: 2447 7,901,358, Re. S.N.: 15/331,760, Oct. 21, 2016, Cl.: 600, HIGH FREQUENCY ARRAY ULTRASOUND SYSTEM, James Mehi, et al, Owner of Record: FUIJIFILM SonoSite, Inc., Bothell, WA, Attorney or Agent: Ryan M. Bello, Ex. Gp.: 3739 8,042,396, Re. S.N.: 14/871,240, Sep. 30, 2015, Cl.: 073, MICROELECTROMECHANICAL SENSOR WITH IMPROVED MECHANICAL DECOUPLING OF SENSING AND DRIVING MODES, Luca Coronato, et al, Owner of Record: STMicroelectronics S.r.l., Agrate Brianza, ITALY, Attorney or Agent: Karen Henckel, Ex. Gp.: 2855 8,152,351, Re. S.N.: 15/335,261, Oct. 26, 2016, Cl.: 362, LASER ILLUMINATED BACKLIGHT FOR FLAT PANEL DISPLAYS, Masayuki KARAKAWA, Newmarket, NH, Owner of Record: Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation, San Francisco, CA, Attorney or Agent: I-Wei Hsieh, Ex. Gp.: 2875 8,258,522, Re. S.N.: 15/336,285, Oct. 27, 2016, Cl.: 257, LIGHT-EMITTING DIODE APPARATUS, NORIKAZU KADONTANI, et al, Owner of Record: CITIZEN ELECTRONICS CO., LTD., YAMANASHI, JAPAN, Attorney or Agent: JOSHA COHEN, Ex. Gp.: 2892 8,613,860, Re. S.N.: 15/337,085, Oct. 28, 2016, Cl.: 216, GROUP III- NITRIDE LAYERS WITH PATTERNED SURFACES, Aref Chowdhury, et al, Owner of Record: Alcatel Lucent, BOULOGNE BILLANCOURT, FRANCE, Attorney or Agent: Yuri Grudzdkov, Ex. Gp.: 1713 8,820,304, Re. S.N.: 15/254,706, Sep. 01, 2016, Cl.: 124, CABLE GUARD SYSTEM FOR ARCHERY BOWS, Richard Batdorf, Mt. Arlington, NJ, Owner of Record: The Outdoor Group, LLC, West Henrietta, NY, Attorney or Agent: Renato L. Smith, Ex. Gp.: 3711 8,861,698, Re. S.N. 15/289,905, Oct. 10, 2016, Cl. 379/142, Post-Page Caller Name Identification System, Jeffrey D. Isaacs, Owner of Record: Greenflight Venture Corporation, West Palm Beach, FL, Attorney or Agent: Edward Kwok, Ex. Gp.: 2656 8,866,745, Re. S.N.: 15/331,791, Oct. 21, 2016, Cl.: 345, SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR PROVIDING A TOUCH INPUT INTERFACE FOR INFORMATION COMPUTING AND CONTROL DEVICES, Bradley Louis Schrick, Hood River, OR, Owner of Record: Inventor, Attorney or Agent: Bradley L Schrick, Ex. Gp.: 2621 8,870,124, Re. S.N.: 15/337,996, Oct. 28, 2016, Cl.: 244, APPLICATION OF ELASTOMERIC VORTEX GENERATORS, Peter IRELAND, Wenworth Falls, AUSTRALIA, Owner of Record: Inventor, Attorney or Agent: Graham C. Phero, Ex. Gp.: 3646 8,870,742, Re. S.N. 15/091,976, Apr. 06, 2016, Cl. 600/037, GUI FOR AN IMPLANTABLE RESTRICTION DEVICE AND A DATA LOGGER, Daniel F. Dlugos, Jr. et. al, Owner of Record: ETHICON ENDO-SURGERY, INC., Attorney or Agent: Christina Sperry, Ex. Gp.: 3735 8,872,228, Re. S.N.: 15/336,600, Oct. 27, 2016, Cl.: 438, STRAINED-
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 327|
CHANNEL SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICE FABRICATION, CHUN-FAI CHENG, et al, Owner of Record: TAIWAN SEMICONDUCTOR MANUFACTURING COMPANY, LTD., Hsin-Chu, TAIWAN, Attorney or Agent: David M O'Dell, Ex. Gp.: 2812 8,872,345, Re. S.N.: 15/336,265, Oct. 27, 2016, Cl.: 257, FORMING GROUNDED THROUGH-SILICON VIAS IN A SEMICONDUCTOR SUBSTRATE, Chin-Chun Hsieh, et al, Owner of Record: Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Ltd., Hsin-Chu, TAIWAN, Attorney or Agent: Brian A. Mair, Ex. Gp.: 2811 8,874,619, Re. S.N. 15/289,305, Oct. 10, 2016, Cl. 707/802, A METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR DEFINING COMMON ENTITY RELATIONSHIPS, Robert Mack, Owner of Record: Inventor, Attorney or Agent: Walter J. Tencza Jr., Ex. Gp.: 2161 8,877,492, Re. S.N.: 15/344,216, Nov. 04, 2016, Cl.: 435, COMPOSITIONS AND METHODS FOR THE PRODUCTION OF ALPHA-HERPESVIRUSES, Simon Delagrave, et al, Owner of Record: Sanofi Pasteur Biologics LLC, Cambridge, MA, Attorney or Agent: Adam M. Breier, Ex. Gp.: 1648 8,880,410, Re. S.N.: 15/341,763, Nov. 02, 2016, Cl.: 704/500, APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR GENERATING A BANDWIDTH EXTENDED SIGNAL, Frederik NAGEL, et al, Owner of Record: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschung e.V., Munich, GERMANY, Attorney or Agent: Donald M. Hendricks, Ex. Gp.: 2658 8,885,579, Re. S.N. 15/261,585, Sep. 09, 2016, Cl. 370/350, UPLINK SYNCHRONIZATION IN MULTIPLE CARRIER SYSTEM, Ki Soen Ryu, Jr. et. al, Owner of Record: LG ELECTRONICS INC., Attorney or Agent: Jeffrey J. Lotspeich, Ex. Gp.: 2468 8,907,483, Re. S.N.: 15/335,313, Oct. 26, 2016, Cl.: 382, SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICE HAVING A SELF-FORMING BARRIER LAYER AT VIA BOTTOM, Larry Zhao, et al, Owner of Record: GLOBALFOUNDRIES INC., GRAND CAYMAN, BAHAMAS, Attorney or Agent: Raymund F. Eich, Ph.D., Ex. Gp.: 2668 9,074,964, Re. S.N. 15/264,041, Sep. 13, 2016, Cl. 073/862, TRANSMISSION TESTING DEVICE, Takahiro NAKAGAWA, Owner of Record: MEIDENSHA CORPORATION, Tokyo, JP, Attorney or Agent: Glenn Law, Ex. Gp.: 2885 9,144,325, Re. S.N. 15/338,631, Oct. 31, 2016, Cl. 005/098, FOLDABLE PLAYARD, Mark James Sousa et. al., Owner of Record: SUMMER INFANT (USA), INC., Attorney or Agent: LuAnn Cserr, Ex. Gp.: 3673 9,179,463, Re. S.N. 15/264,264, Sep. 13, 2016, Cl. 370/329, METHOD FOR PHYSICAL CONTROL FORMAT INDICATOR CHANNEL MAPPING, Jung Hoon Lee, et al., Owner of Record: LG Electronics Inc., Seoul, KR, Attorney or Agent: Mark Kresloff, Ex. Gp.: 2414
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 328|
|Requests for Ex Parte Reexamination Filed|
Requests for Ex Parte Reexamination Filed 5,606,951, Reexam. C.N. 90/013,829, Requested Date: Oct. 6, 2016, Cl. 123/399, Title: ENGINE AIR SUPPLY SYSTEMS, Inventor: Michael P. Southern, et al., Owners of Record: Engine Insights, LLC., Highland Park, IL, Attorney or Agent: Nikaido Marmelstein Murray & Oram, Washington, DC, Ex. Gp.: 3993, Requester: Lionel M. Lavenue, Finnegan Henderson Farabow Garrett & Dunner, LLP., Washington, DC 7,839,729, Reexam. C.N. 90/013,827, Requested Date: Oct. 4, 2016, Cl. 369/030, Title: OPTICAL DRIVE SERVO WITH A SERVO PROCESSOR RECEIVING PHOTODETECTOR SIGNALS, Inventor: Ron J. Kadlec, Owners of Record: Optical Devices, LLC., Peterborough, NH, Attorney or Agent: Optical Devices, LLC., Peterborough, NH, Ex. Gp.: 3992, Requester: Mark D. Alleman, Alleman Hall McCoy Russell & Tuttle, LLP., Portland, OR 8,416,651, Reexam. C.N. 90/013,826, Requested Date: Oct. 3, 2016, Cl. 369/030, Title: SERVO CONTROL USING DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSING FOR OPTICAL DISK DRIVE, Inventor: Ron J. Kadlec, Owners of Record: Optical Devices, LLC., Peterborough, NH, Attorney or Agent: Optical Devices, LLC., Peterborough, NH, Ex. Gp.: 3992, Requester: Mark D. Alleman, Alleman Hall McCoy Russell & Tuttle, LLP., Portland, OR 8,876,683, Reexam. C.N. 90/013,830, Requested Date: Oct. 7, 2016, Cl. 494/010, Title: AUTOMATED SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR BLOOD COMPONENTS SEPARATION AND PROCESSING, Inventor: Jacques Chammas, Owners of Record: Jacques Chammas, Walpole, MA, Attorney or Agent: Polsinelli, PC., Boston, MA, Ex. Gp.: 3991, Requester: John R. Merkling, Terumo BCT, Inc., Lakewood, CO 9,291,250, Reexam. C.N. 90/013,831, Requested Date: Oct. 7, 2016, Cl. 474/156, Title: CHAINRING, Inventor: Markus Reiter et al., Owners of Record: SRAM, LLC., Chicago, IL, Attorney or Agent: Lewis Rice, LLC., St. Louis, MO, Ex. Gp.: 3993, Requester: Mark D. Alleman, Alleman Hall McCoy Russell & Tuttle, LLP., Portland, OR
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 329|
|Notice of Expiration of Trademark Registrations Due to Failure to Renew|
Notice of Expiration of Trademark Registrations Due to Failure to Renew 15 U.S.C. 1059 provides that each trademark registration may be renewed for periods of ten years from the end of the expiring period upon payment of the prescribed fee and the filing of an acceptable application for renewal. This may be done at any time within one year before the expiration of the period for which the registration was issued or renewed, or it may be done within six months after such expiration on payment of an additional fee. According to the records of the Office, the trademark registrations listed below are expired due to failure to renew in accordance with 15 U.S.C. 1059. TRADEMARK REGISTRATIONS WHICH EXPIRED November 4, 2016 DUE TO FAILURE TO RENEW Reg. Number Serial Number Reg. Date 1,388,332 73/539,367 04/01/1986 1,388,350 73/543,964 04/01/1986 1,964,854 74/351,814 04/02/1996 1,965,245 74/611,078 04/02/1996 3,073,853 75/678,277 03/28/2006 3,072,354 75/692,185 03/28/2006 3,072,355 75/725,711 03/28/2006 3,072,360 75/813,274 03/28/2006 3,073,870 76/118,475 03/28/2006 3,073,876 76/181,425 03/28/2006 3,072,369 76/194,211 03/28/2006 3,073,882 76/245,004 03/28/2006 3,073,888 76/265,615 03/28/2006 3,072,386 76/378,899 03/28/2006 3,073,911 76/396,533 03/28/2006 3,073,913 76/399,399 03/28/2006 3,073,914 76/403,651 03/28/2006 3,073,915 76/408,620 03/28/2006 3,073,924 76/452,238 03/28/2006 3,072,406 76/464,936 03/28/2006 3,073,933 76/477,450 03/28/2006 3,072,409 76/478,271 03/28/2006 3,072,412 76/482,279 03/28/2006 3,072,414 76/485,524 03/28/2006 3,073,947 76/510,477 03/28/2006 3,072,425 76/522,447 03/28/2006 3,073,961 76/530,801 03/28/2006 3,073,965 76/533,614 03/28/2006 3,072,430 76/535,813 03/28/2006 3,072,433 76/539,930 03/28/2006 3,073,980 76/547,126 03/28/2006 3,073,981 76/547,131 03/28/2006 3,073,982 76/547,134 03/28/2006 3,073,993 76/558,506 03/28/2006 3,074,007 76/562,859 03/28/2006 3,074,008 76/562,860 03/28/2006 3,074,020 76/570,127 03/28/2006 3,074,022 76/570,452 03/28/2006 3,072,459 76/574,937 03/28/2006 3,074,036 76/575,951 03/28/2006 3,074,042 76/578,855 03/28/2006 3,074,045 76/581,180 03/28/2006 3,072,466 76/583,380 03/28/2006 3,074,047 76/584,130 03/28/2006 3,072,469 76/585,356 03/28/2006
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 330|
3,072,475 76/591,129 03/28/2006 3,074,824 76/595,004 03/28/2006 3,072,488 76/597,568 03/28/2006 3,072,493 76/599,741 03/28/2006 3,072,501 76/604,017 03/28/2006 3,072,504 76/605,905 03/28/2006 3,072,505 76/606,060 03/28/2006 3,074,094 76/606,081 03/28/2006 3,072,508 76/607,067 03/28/2006 3,072,514 76/607,942 03/28/2006 3,074,101 76/608,749 03/28/2006 3,074,829 76/609,214 03/28/2006 3,072,525 76/609,291 03/28/2006 3,072,544 76/611,356 03/28/2006 3,072,556 76/612,143 03/28/2006 3,072,558 76/612,317 03/28/2006 3,072,560 76/612,396 03/28/2006 3,072,573 76/614,717 03/28/2006 3,074,118 76/617,978 03/28/2006 3,074,834 76/618,073 03/28/2006 3,074,124 76/622,931 03/28/2006 3,072,598 76/622,933 03/28/2006 3,072,599 76/623,167 03/28/2006 3,074,839 76/623,776 03/28/2006 3,074,125 76/624,531 03/28/2006 3,072,610 76/627,947 03/28/2006 3,072,615 76/629,366 03/28/2006 3,072,618 76/629,799 03/28/2006 3,072,619 76/629,912 03/28/2006 3,072,623 76/631,017 03/28/2006 3,072,630 76/631,868 03/28/2006 3,074,126 76/632,465 03/28/2006 3,072,635 76/632,912 03/28/2006 3,072,636 76/632,921 03/28/2006 3,072,643 76/634,279 03/28/2006 3,072,649 76/634,951 03/28/2006 3,072,654 76/635,045 03/28/2006 3,072,658 76/635,259 03/28/2006 3,072,664 76/635,452 03/28/2006 3,074,846 76/642,275 03/28/2006 3,074,847 76/642,278 03/28/2006 3,074,130 76/977,925 03/28/2006 3,074,137 78/039,560 03/28/2006 3,074,141 78/058,659 03/28/2006 3,074,144 78/080,639 03/28/2006 3,074,148 78/085,235 03/28/2006 3,074,150 78/088,546 03/28/2006 3,074,158 78/112,470 03/28/2006 3,074,160 78/124,315 03/28/2006 3,074,161 78/124,875 03/28/2006 3,074,162 78/126,669 03/28/2006 3,074,165 78/136,060 03/28/2006 3,074,170 78/145,599 03/28/2006 3,072,697 78/158,181 03/28/2006 3,074,849 78/167,559 03/28/2006 3,074,199 78/190,336 03/28/2006 3,074,213 78/206,312 03/28/2006 3,074,220 78/213,618 03/28/2006 3,074,228 78/233,028 03/28/2006 3,074,231 78/235,896 03/28/2006 3,074,233 78/236,867 03/28/2006 3,074,234 78/236,870 03/28/2006 3,074,249 78/248,985 03/28/2006 3,072,716 78/249,749 03/28/2006 3,072,718 78/250,434 03/28/2006 3,074,261 78/260,767 03/28/2006
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 331|
3,074,275 78/271,853 03/28/2006 3,074,287 78/278,806 03/28/2006 3,072,729 78/281,483 03/28/2006 3,074,305 78/288,265 03/28/2006 3,074,319 78/297,113 03/28/2006 3,072,735 78/297,354 03/28/2006 3,072,736 78/297,983 03/28/2006 3,074,323 78/299,507 03/28/2006 3,074,858 78/315,376 03/28/2006 3,074,345 78/315,670 03/28/2006 3,072,746 78/320,892 03/28/2006 3,074,353 78/322,370 03/28/2006 3,074,358 78/323,661 03/28/2006 3,074,363 78/325,743 03/28/2006 3,074,371 78/331,508 03/28/2006 3,074,372 78/332,013 03/28/2006 3,074,387 78/338,149 03/28/2006 3,074,389 78/339,274 03/28/2006 3,074,409 78/347,463 03/28/2006 3,074,416 78/350,660 03/28/2006 3,072,755 78/351,304 03/28/2006 3,072,756 78/351,639 03/28/2006 3,074,421 78/354,079 03/28/2006 3,072,758 78/355,799 03/28/2006 3,074,424 78/356,740 03/28/2006 3,074,425 78/357,295 03/28/2006 3,074,428 78/360,042 03/28/2006 3,074,443 78/365,891 03/28/2006 3,074,457 78/373,349 03/28/2006 3,074,466 78/378,140 03/28/2006 3,074,470 78/382,056 03/28/2006 3,072,784 78/383,544 03/28/2006 3,074,478 78/385,742 03/28/2006 3,074,488 78/391,785 03/28/2006 3,074,489 78/392,915 03/28/2006 3,074,490 78/393,133 03/28/2006 3,074,494 78/395,642 03/28/2006 3,074,495 78/396,934 03/28/2006 3,074,864 78/398,356 03/28/2006 3,072,794 78/399,815 03/28/2006 3,072,795 78/400,987 03/28/2006 3,074,504 78/401,394 03/28/2006 3,074,513 78/403,989 03/28/2006 3,074,868 78/404,586 03/28/2006 3,074,518 78/405,739 03/28/2006 3,074,520 78/407,218 03/28/2006 3,074,529 78/412,184 03/28/2006 3,074,541 78/413,915 03/28/2006 3,074,544 78/414,702 03/28/2006 3,074,546 78/416,245 03/28/2006 3,074,553 78/418,269 03/28/2006 3,074,875 78/419,872 03/28/2006 3,074,565 78/420,966 03/28/2006 3,074,566 78/421,593 03/28/2006 3,074,570 78/422,033 03/28/2006 3,074,572 78/422,284 03/28/2006 3,072,812 78/424,662 03/28/2006 3,074,584 78/427,509 03/28/2006 3,074,586 78/427,761 03/28/2006 3,074,587 78/428,085 03/28/2006 3,074,589 78/428,544 03/28/2006 3,074,594 78/430,275 03/28/2006 3,074,601 78/433,612 03/28/2006 3,074,612 78/438,083 03/28/2006 3,074,613 78/438,240 03/28/2006 3,074,618 78/439,441 03/28/2006
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 332|
3,074,619 78/439,489 03/28/2006 3,072,820 78/442,228 03/28/2006 3,072,821 78/442,290 03/28/2006 3,074,633 78/444,332 03/28/2006 3,072,827 78/448,124 03/28/2006 3,074,640 78/449,466 03/28/2006 3,074,641 78/449,613 03/28/2006 3,072,833 78/452,621 03/28/2006 3,074,644 78/452,852 03/28/2006 3,072,854 78/465,618 03/28/2006 3,074,663 78/466,742 03/28/2006 3,072,863 78/470,770 03/28/2006 3,072,864 78/470,823 03/28/2006 3,072,868 78/471,716 03/28/2006 3,074,667 78/473,035 03/28/2006 3,074,668 78/473,744 03/28/2006 3,072,875 78/473,808 03/28/2006 3,074,669 78/473,837 03/28/2006 3,074,677 78/476,940 03/28/2006 3,074,678 78/477,434 03/28/2006 3,072,888 78/477,784 03/28/2006 3,074,891 78/478,627 03/28/2006 3,074,892 78/478,632 03/28/2006 3,074,691 78/480,974 03/28/2006 3,074,693 78/481,307 03/28/2006 3,074,894 78/482,514 03/28/2006 3,072,912 78/483,684 03/28/2006 3,074,701 78/483,701 03/28/2006 3,072,939 78/488,015 03/28/2006 3,072,946 78/488,735 03/28/2006 3,074,710 78/488,987 03/28/2006 3,074,896 78/489,390 03/28/2006 3,072,953 78/489,864 03/28/2006 3,072,955 78/489,914 03/28/2006 3,072,957 78/490,108 03/28/2006 3,072,959 78/490,432 03/28/2006 3,072,966 78/490,848 03/28/2006 3,074,897 78/492,294 03/28/2006 3,072,974 78/492,389 03/28/2006 3,072,984 78/493,943 03/28/2006 3,074,721 78/494,736 03/28/2006 3,074,898 78/494,842 03/28/2006 3,074,722 78/495,288 03/28/2006 3,074,723 78/495,312 03/28/2006 3,073,001 78/497,838 03/28/2006 3,073,003 78/498,179 03/28/2006 3,073,009 78/499,848 03/28/2006 3,073,019 78/503,531 03/28/2006 3,073,021 78/504,495 03/28/2006 3,073,023 78/504,753 03/28/2006 3,073,039 78/512,405 03/28/2006 3,074,743 78/512,630 03/28/2006 3,074,746 78/515,156 03/28/2006 3,074,751 78/516,495 03/28/2006 3,074,909 78/516,846 03/28/2006 3,073,056 78/519,257 03/28/2006 3,073,057 78/519,313 03/28/2006 3,073,058 78/519,341 03/28/2006 3,074,918 78/520,979 03/28/2006 3,073,062 78/521,582 03/28/2006 3,073,071 78/525,700 03/28/2006 3,074,761 78/526,671 03/28/2006 3,074,922 78/527,044 03/28/2006 3,074,763 78/528,067 03/28/2006 3,074,769 78/528,813 03/28/2006 3,074,925 78/530,517 03/28/2006
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 333|
3,073,082 78/530,763 03/28/2006 3,073,083 78/530,833 03/28/2006 3,073,097 78/536,656 03/28/2006 3,074,777 78/538,586 03/28/2006 3,073,103 78/538,958 03/28/2006 3,073,124 78/546,241 03/28/2006 3,073,127 78/548,405 03/28/2006 3,073,132 78/551,084 03/28/2006 3,073,133 78/551,191 03/28/2006 3,073,135 78/552,826 03/28/2006 3,073,144 78/555,783 03/28/2006 3,073,148 78/556,738 03/28/2006 3,074,945 78/559,471 03/28/2006 3,074,784 78/559,934 03/28/2006 3,073,161 78/560,100 03/28/2006 3,073,180 78/566,012 03/28/2006 3,073,188 78/568,480 03/28/2006 3,073,189 78/568,574 03/28/2006 3,073,191 78/568,805 03/28/2006 3,073,193 78/568,844 03/28/2006 3,073,196 78/570,467 03/28/2006 3,073,198 78/571,612 03/28/2006 3,074,787 78/574,329 03/28/2006 3,073,217 78/575,348 03/28/2006 3,073,218 78/575,726 03/28/2006 3,074,955 78/579,726 03/28/2006 3,073,238 78/580,890 03/28/2006 3,073,250 78/582,701 03/28/2006 3,073,264 78/585,788 03/28/2006 3,073,274 78/588,095 03/28/2006 3,073,283 78/589,667 03/28/2006 3,073,284 78/589,902 03/28/2006 3,073,286 78/590,137 03/28/2006 3,073,289 78/590,706 03/28/2006 3,073,300 78/592,082 03/28/2006 3,073,304 78/592,863 03/28/2006 3,073,311 78/594,050 03/28/2006 3,073,321 78/595,092 03/28/2006 3,073,328 78/596,068 03/28/2006 3,073,329 78/596,078 03/28/2006 3,073,334 78/596,311 03/28/2006 3,073,335 78/596,356 03/28/2006 3,073,336 78/596,369 03/28/2006 3,073,339 78/596,629 03/28/2006 3,073,353 78/597,162 03/28/2006 3,073,354 78/597,199 03/28/2006 3,073,377 78/598,567 03/28/2006 3,073,379 78/598,708 03/28/2006 3,073,384 78/598,816 03/28/2006 3,073,386 78/598,867 03/28/2006 3,073,393 78/599,211 03/28/2006 3,073,410 78/599,681 03/28/2006 3,073,414 78/599,776 03/28/2006 3,073,418 78/599,899 03/28/2006 3,073,419 78/599,993 03/28/2006 3,073,428 78/600,548 03/28/2006 3,073,434 78/600,773 03/28/2006 3,073,441 78/600,949 03/28/2006 3,073,442 78/600,974 03/28/2006 3,073,444 78/601,020 03/28/2006 3,073,447 78/601,075 03/28/2006 3,073,472 78/601,843 03/28/2006 3,073,478 78/601,959 03/28/2006 3,073,479 78/601,965 03/28/2006 3,073,488 78/602,133 03/28/2006 3,073,501 78/602,589 03/28/2006
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 334|
3,073,513 78/603,000 03/28/2006 3,073,517 78/603,130 03/28/2006 3,073,520 78/603,153 03/28/2006 3,073,525 78/603,304 03/28/2006 3,073,527 78/603,333 03/28/2006 3,073,529 78/603,367 03/28/2006 3,073,536 78/603,623 03/28/2006 3,073,543 78/603,712 03/28/2006 3,073,547 78/603,778 03/28/2006 3,073,550 78/603,817 03/28/2006 3,073,576 78/604,491 03/28/2006 3,073,577 78/604,568 03/28/2006 3,073,581 78/604,707 03/28/2006 3,073,583 78/604,772 03/28/2006 3,073,587 78/604,973 03/28/2006 3,074,964 78/604,990 03/28/2006 3,073,590 78/605,078 03/28/2006 3,073,591 78/605,093 03/28/2006 3,073,592 78/605,168 03/28/2006 3,073,595 78/605,234 03/28/2006 3,073,596 78/605,243 03/28/2006 3,073,602 78/605,638 03/28/2006 3,073,612 78/606,014 03/28/2006 3,073,614 78/606,028 03/28/2006 3,073,615 78/606,071 03/28/2006 3,073,618 78/606,138 03/28/2006 3,073,619 78/606,189 03/28/2006 3,073,621 78/606,334 03/28/2006 3,073,625 78/606,512 03/28/2006 3,073,629 78/606,794 03/28/2006 3,073,631 78/606,836 03/28/2006 3,073,633 78/606,895 03/28/2006 3,073,643 78/607,423 03/28/2006 3,073,645 78/612,266 03/28/2006 3,074,790 78/625,309 03/28/2006 3,074,972 78/632,602 03/28/2006 3,074,975 78/651,459 03/28/2006 3,074,979 78/663,759 03/28/2006 3,073,662 78/687,794 03/28/2006 3,073,663 78/687,895 03/28/2006
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 335|
|Service by Publication|
Service by Publication A notice of opposition to the registration of the mark in the application identified below having been filed, and the notice of such proceeding sent to applicant at the last known address having been returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, notice is hereby given that unless the applicant listed herein, its assigns or legal representatives, shall enter an appearance within thirty days of this publication, the opposition will proceed as in the case of default. Pop Style International Limited, Hong Kong, Application Serial No. 86661848 for the mark "ULTRAFIRE", Opposition No. 91226597. MILLICENT CANADY Paralegal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, for MARY BONEY DENISON Commissioner for Trademarks Service by Publication A petition to cancel the registration identified below having been filed, and the notice of such proceeding sent to Registrant at the last known address having been returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, notice is hereby given that unless the Registrant listed herein, its assigns or legal representatives, shall enter an appearance within thirty days of this publication, the cancellation will proceed as in the case of default. Biomeridian International Inc., Draper, UT, Registration No. 2199865 for the mark "LISTEN", Cancellation No. 92063968. JOI M WILSON Paralegal Specialist Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, for MARY BONEY DENISON Commissioner for Trademarks Service by Publication A petition to cancel the registration identified below having been filed, and the notice of such proceeding sent to Registrant at the last known address having been returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, notice is hereby given that unless the Registrant listed herein, its assigns or legal representatives, shall enter an appearance within thirty days of this publication, the cancellation will proceed as in the case of default. Weightless Worldwide, Redondo Beach, CA, Registration No. 4789359 for the mark "AIR BAR", Cancellation No. 92063991. MILLICENT CANADY Paralegal Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, for MARY BONEY DENISON Commissioner for Trademarks Service by Publication A petition to cancel the registration identified below having been filed, and the notice of such proceeding sent to registrant at the last known address having been returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, notice is hereby given that unless the registrant listed herein, its assigns or legal representatives, shall enter an appearance within thirty days of this publication, the cancellation will proceed as in the case of
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 336|
default. Jake Barth DBA Dirty Oscars Annex, University Place, WA, Registration No. 4620611 for the mark "DIRTY OSCARS ANNEX", Cancellation No. 92064325. SMAK, LLC., Raynham, MA, Registration No. 4150102 for the mark "SMAK", Cancellation No. 92064426. KARL KOCHERSPERGER Paralegal Specialist Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, for MARY BONEY DENISON Commissioner for Trademarks Service by Publication A petition to cancel the registration identified below having been filed, and the notice of such proceeding sent to registrant at the last known address having been returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, notice is hereby given that unless the registrant listed herein, its assigns or legal representatives, shall enter an appearance within thirty days of this publication, the cancellation will proceed as in the case of default. Switch Bulb Company, Inc., San Jose, California, Registration No. 4261874, 4258480, 4404276, and 4258990 for the mark "SWITCH", Cancellation No. 92064377. NICOLE M. THIER Paralegal Specialist Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, for MARY BONEY DENISON Commissioner for Trademarks Service by Publication A petition to cancel the registration identified below having been filed, and the notice of such proceeding sent to registrant at the last known address having been returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, notice is hereby given that unless the registrant listed herein, its assigns or legal representatives, shall enter an appearance within thirty days of this publication, the cancellation will proceed as in the case of default. Bourne Logistics Marketing Ltd., Silver Springs, NV, Registration No. 4559246 for the mark "ESSENCE TRAVEL GROUP", Cancellation No. 92064390. AMY MATELSKI Paralegal Specialist Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, for MARY BONEY DENISON Commissioner for Trademarks Service by Publication A petition to cancel the registration identified below having been filed, and the notice of such proceeding sent to registrant at the last known address having been returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, notice is hereby given that unless the registrant listed herein, its assigns or legal representatives, shall enter an appearance within thirty days of this publication, the cancellation will proceed as in the case of default. SSC Mixed LLC, Sioux Falls, SD, Registration No. 4076370 for the mark "MIXED", Cancellation No. 92064413. LALITA GREENE Paralegal Specialist Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, for MARY BONEY DENISON Commissioner for Trademarks
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 337|
|Patent Public Advisory Committee Annual Report 2016|
PATENT PUBLIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE OF THE
|November 1, 2016|
Voting Committee Members:
Esther M. Kepplinger
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Arent Fox LLP
Wayne P. Sobon
Wayne Sobon Consulting
P. Michael Walker
Finjan Holdings, Inc.
Patent Office Professional
Vernon Ako Towler
National Treasury Employees Union
(NTEU, Local 243)
National Treasury Employees Union
(NTEU, Local 245)
I am pleased to present you with the 2016 Annual Report of the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Fiscal Year 2016 has been a very successful year of impressive collaboration between the USPTO and the PPAC to further the mission of the agency, stemming from the leadership of Michelle Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Recognizing that the issuance of high quality patents with a reasonable pendency is of critical importance to the economic strength of the United States, Under Secretary and Director Michelle Lee established patent quality as the major focus of her tenure. Throughout this fiscal year, the USPTO has held public fora and sought comments from stakeholders on ways to improve the patent products and processes. The USPTO has continued to focus efforts to ensure and enhance patent quality through the development of numerous enhanced patent quality initiatives, directed to excellence in work product, excellence in measuring patent quality, and excellence in customer service. These initiatives included, for example, new programs for applicant participation, a quality review tool to gather uniform review data on correctness and clarity of the work product into a single database, delivery of reference material to examiners to ensure consistent decisions by different areas of the USPTO, and programs to improve the clarity of the record.
In FY 2016, Information Technology (IT) initiatives continued to deliver progress in replacing antiquated technology and providing new systems for use by patent examiners, patent applicants and other stakeholders providing improved capabilities and better interfaces for interactions with the USPTO. This necessary modernization of the computer systems at the USPTO is essential to the patent examination process to improve the patent examiner tools and enhance their abilities to deliver quality examination. Implementation of Global Dossier, affording the public access to the contents of patent applications from a variety of patent offices was a significant achievement.
During FY 2016, the fees collected were consistent with projections with an increase of 1.86% from FY 2015. Underlying this growth in revenue was a 5.11% increase in patent filings compared to FY 2015 and an increase in maintenance fees collected. However, fee collections for FY 2016 were still less than in FY 2014. On the spending side, both FY 2015 and FY 2016 show spending requirements as greater than fee collections, which supports the need for adjusted patent fees being planned for FY 2017. In FY 2015 and in FY 2016, the shortfall was addressed by drawing from the Patent Operating Reserve, emphasizing the importance of that reserve fund. Continued access by the USPTO to all collected fees is crucial for the efforts to improve patent quality and replace mission critical systems.
In the international arena, the USPTO made excellent progress in a number of vital areas, including work sharing, patent harmonization, and implementation of the Global Dossier project, delivering improved efficiency and greater access to patent documents for examiners and the public.
A recent study titled “The Bright Side of Patents” and conducted by Harvard Business School and New York University (see, USPTO Economic Working Paper No. 2015-5, December 2015), demonstrated that patents help startups create jobs, grow sales, innovate, and reward their investors. The United States has been the leader in startup companies and innovation but for American innovation to continue to thrive, we must have a strong, high-quality patent system that encourages innovation, attracts investors, grows our economy and creates good jobs. The ability to patent, and thereby protect an invention, is a necessary incentive for inventors and innovative companies to assume the financial risk and investment to bring new products and services to market. A strong, fully funded, technologically supported USPTO is vital to its ability to provide timely high quality examinations of patent applications that result in strong patents being issued that support our economy and stimulate innovation around the world.
Thank you for taking the time to review this report. We welcome any questions you or your staff have about it.
Patent Public Advisory Committee
United States Patent and Trademark Office
Enclosure: Patent Public Advisory Committee Fiscal Year 2016 Annual Report
The Honorable Charles Grassley, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Chairman, House Judiciary Committee
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Ranking Member, Senate Judiciary Committee
The Honorable John Conyers, Jr., Ranking Member, House Judiciary Committee
The Honorable Darrell Issa, Chairman, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
The Honorable Jerry Nadler, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet
The Honorable Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce
The Honorable Michelle K. Lee, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Andrew Hirshfeld, Commissioner for Patents
Table of Contents
|V.||PATENT TRIAL AND APPEAL BOARD|
|VII.||REQUESTS FOR CONTINUED EXAMINATION|
|VIII.||INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, WORK SHARING AND OUTREACH|
|X.||USPTO OUTREACH INITIATIVES|
|B.||ON-GOING QUALITY INITIATIVES|
|2.||External Quality Survey|
|C.||NEW QUALITY INITIATIVES|
|1.||Case Studies Pilot|
|2.||Clarity of the Record Pilot|
|3.||Master Review Form|
|4.||Post Grant Outcomes|
|5.||Post Prosecution Pilot|
|6.||Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedures|
|1.||Pre-Appeal Brief, Appeal Brief Conferences and PTAB Statistics|
|E.||INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENTS|
|1.||Government Accountability Office Report on Quality|
|2.||Office of the Inspector General Report|
|G.||GUIDANCE AND TRAINING|
|B.||MISSION OF THE OCIO AND STRATEGIC IT OBJECTIVES - FOCUS ON QUALITY|
|C.||IT MODERNIZATION AT THE USPTO|
|1.||Potential Impact of the Shared Services Model on IT at the USPTO|
|D.||OCIO PROGRESS IN FY 2016|
|1.||Global IT Systems|
|B.||THE USPTO BUDGET PROCESS|
|C.||FINANCIAL OPERATIONS REVIEW|
|1.||Budget And Initial Forecasts|
|2.||FY 2016 Results to Date and Updated Projections|
|3.||Long-Term Budget Trends|
|D.||BIENNIAL FEE REVIEW AND FEE SETTING|
|IV.||PATENT TRIAL AND APPEAL BOARD|
|C.||EX PARTE APPEALS|
|G.||PTAB MOTION TO AMEND CLAIMS|
|B.||DETERMINING OPTIMAL PENDENCY|
|C.||UNEXAMINED PATENT APPLICATION INVENTORY|
|VI.||REQUESTS FOR CONTINUED EXAMINATION|
|B.||RCE INVENTORY & BACKLOG|
|C.||TOTAL PENDENCY FOR APPLICATIONS WITH AN RCE FILING|
|D.||PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES|
|1.||Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement|
|2.||Pre-Appeal Brief Conference Pilot Program|
|3.||After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0|
|4.||Post-Prosecution Pilot Program|
|5.||Track One Prioritized Examination|
|VII.||INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, WORK SHARING AND OUTREACH|
|A.||SUBSTANTIVE PATENT LAW HARMONIZATION|
|B.||TECHNICAL AND PROCEDURAL HARMONIZATION: WORK SHARING AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION PROGRAMS|
|2.||Global Dossier Initiative|
|3.||Procedural Patent Law Harmonization|
|4.||Collaborative Search Pilot Program|
|5.||Patent Prosecution Highway|
|6.||Cooperative Patent Classification|
|7.||Patent Cooperation Treaty - Systemic Improvement|
|8.||Overall USPTO PCT Statistics|
|9.||Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs|
|10.||Industrial Design 5 Forum|
|B.||EXAMINER HIRING AND RETENTION|
|C.||EFFECTS OF UNCERTAINTY VERSUS STABILITY IN BUDGETS ON HIRING|
|D.||INITIATIVES TO INCREASE EXAMINATION CAPACITY AND QUALITY|
|1.||Target Overtime and Backlog Areas|
|4.||New and Ongoing Programs|
|F.||THIRD PARTY REVIEWS|
|1.||National Academy of Public Administration|
|2.||Government Accountability Office|
|3.||Inspector General Report|
|IX.||USPTO OUTREACH INITIATIVES|
|APPENDIX 1: PPAC MEMBER BIOS|
|ESTHER M. KEPPLINGER, CHAIRMAN|
|MARYLEE JENKINS, VICE CHAIRMAN|
|WAYNE P. SOBON|
|P. MICHAEL WALKER|
|APPENDIX 2: Fee Setting Report|
The Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC or Committee) thanks the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and in particular, Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the USPTO Michelle Lee, for the assistance and positive atmosphere enabling our committee to interact effectively and efficiently with the employees of the USPTO. Throughout the year, all personnel of the USPTO provided unfettered access to the information requested by the PPAC in its role as advisors. They regularly provided detailed information allowing us to better understand the complex issues facing the USPTO and permitted constructive discussions of options, constraints, and upcoming initiatives for our consideration and comment.
The PPAC thanks all of the employees of the USPTO for their assistance over this year and for the efforts made by all to improve the system and provide a world class patent office. The leadership at the USPTO has consistently demonstrated a commitment to excellence throughout all of our interactions and we commend their efforts to continually provide better service, quality, information, and interactions with the public. This positive atmosphere translated to more productive interactions with the PPAC and the public in numerous venues. The USPTO continued to demonstrate transparency by holding public meetings and issuing requests for comment on various proposed changes and actions, which can only provide better results. We are grateful to the management of the USPTO and the examiners’ union, the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA), for the assistance we have received in fulfilling our roles as members of the PPAC. We look forward to our continuing interactions with the USPTO.
High quality patents continue to be the most important priority for patent applicants and the public and the USPTO has placed appropriate emphasis on providing it by proposing and implementing a series of steps and initiatives throughout FY 2016. The value of high patent quality is essential in a global economy to reduce uncertainty in the marketplace and unnecessary conflict or litigation and to help drive the U.S. economy. Following the establishment of patent quality as the major focus of her tenure during FY 2015, Director Michelle Lee continued this focus and expanded the efforts and initiatives of the USPTO to provide enhanced patent quality during FY 2016.
The USPTO implemented a significant number of new initiatives to enhance patent quality ranging from training pilots for examiners and training programs for applicants’ participation; providing alternative options during prosecution; a Master Review Form (MRF) for use in all reviews of the work product; and adjusting the metrics utilized to track and report the evaluations done by the USPTO of their work product. The USPTO solicits comments and suggestions on all of these initiatives. Some initiatives may need modifications based on those comments, feedback or lessons learned even after their implementation. The initiatives represent the USPTO’s commitment to improve performance and provide additional options for the applicants. Especially noteworthy initiatives include: the Post Prosecution Pilot (P3) program in which applicants may present arguments after a final rejection to a panel of three examiners and receive detailed information regarding the outcome of their evaluation; the Post Grant Outcomes Pilot in which information from the Inter Partes Review (IPR) of patents is provided to the examiner of a pending related application; the MRF to be used in all evaluations of the work product; Clarity of the Record Pilot; Case Studies of topics suggested by the public; and regularly distributed memos, guidelines and examples related to examination of claims under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and caselaw. The USPTO continues to accept comments for improving patent quality though the World Class Patent Quality (WCPQ) mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Continued necessary information technology (IT) improvements are underway at the USPTO to modernize the computer systems essential to the patent examination process that should provide tools that will enhance the abilities of examiners to deliver quality examination.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO focus on supervisory review and a robust feedback system to channel quality comments and suggestions to the examiners, combined with the identification of any individual or group deficiencies that can then be addressed with additional training and follow up. The Supervisory Patent Examiners (SPEs) are well positioned to conduct reviews and deliver feedback, but they must be allowed an adequate amount of time to perform these functions and have emphasized that this is their primary and most important function.
The PPAC recommends a focus on complete searches as set forth in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) covering an invention, as described and claimed, including the inventive concepts toward which the claims appear to be directed; clear and comprehensive office actions which identify how the claim is being interpreted and the passages of the reference(s) being relied upon; and thorough treatment of arguments and evidence submitted in response to the rejections.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO focus on mining the data obtained from the pre-appeal brief conferences and the appeal conferences to identify patterns or errors and develop steps for quality improvements of the final rejections being advanced. While these programs provide an invaluable check and balance to weed out improper rejections, the procedures themselves are costly in time and money to both the applicant and the USPTO. Therefore, efforts to reduce the number of improper final rejections are a worthy undertaking.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO evaluate and try to reduce the number of final rejections which cite new prior art, particularly, following small changes to the claims which should have been recognized as the invention was searched according to the guidance provided for search in the MPEP. It appears that new prior art applied in some final rejections should have been located and applied to the claims, as originally presented. Additionally, efforts or initiatives to enter more small changes to the claims, especially those which put the case in condition for allowance following a final rejection, would be welcomed. Changes to the current compact prosecution system which would allow other options, such as an additional amendment after a final rejection, should be considered. Reconsideration of the application with additional amendments and arguments within a few months is more effective and efficient for both the applicant and the USPTO.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO evaluate the compact prosecution model and determine if it provides an efficient, effective process for patent examination. Approximately 30% of filed applications are Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs) suggesting that a single round of prosecution allotted from the compact prosecution model is insufficient to resolve the issues in many applications. Reducing the number of RCEs could make the USPTO more efficient in the long-term so an analysis of whether a different process could be utilized is suggested.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO focus on improving the consistency of the rejections and quality of actions from the Patent Examining Corps. Many practitioners believe that the outcome of a patent application depends very heavily upon which examiner is assigned to the application. While some differences among examiners are to be expected, a more predictable examination and outcome of patent applications should exist. This is thought to exist especially in the application of 35 U.S.C. § 101 but seems prevalent across all examination review. Whether or not an applicant receives a patent and how long and at what cost the process takes should not be dependent on which examiner does the examination. The USPTO should focus on consistency, supervisory oversight to monitor the quality, and implementation of programs for intervention and correction of errors without the need for costly appeals to the Patent Trial And Appeal Board (PTAB).
In FY 2015, the USPTO continued to fund IT initiatives at a higher level than they had in previous years, at spending levels that were in fact double those of FY 2013; this same trend continued into FY 2016. The PPAC endorsed, and continues to endorse, these higher levels of IT spending because replacement of antiquated technology has already been delayed too long, jeopardizing mission-critical functions such as efficient examination, service delivery to applicants and other stakeholders, and improving patent quality via functions such as examiner search and improved workflow. At present there is no question that these initiatives must move forward; therefore, the PPAC’s focus is in helping the USPTO to prioritize as well as to determine the specific funding levels necessary, given fluctuations in application filing and USPTO revenues.
During the second quarter of FY 2015, the USPTO made available to the entire Patent Examining Corps a new system, the Docket and Application Viewer (DAV), the first of a planned series of rollouts of the new Patents-End-to-End (PE2E) functionality. This new software tool, which replaces the electronic Data Application Navigator (eDAN) tool long in use by examiners, provides integrated case management, improved ability to prioritize tasks, and numerous features to automate tasks examiners previously carried out by hand, such as drawing claim trees and searching for text within application files. In addition, like all of the other tools in the PE2E portfolio, DAV builds upon an advanced, open source, standards-based architecture so that functions that were previously performed separately within each separate software tool, such as searching and claim tracking, can be consistently streamlined across tools and applications. During FY 2016, there continued to be wide acceptance of DAV among examiners, to the point that almost every examiner has been trained on DAV and its use was widely adopted. Usage of eDAN will cease by the end of 1st quarter FY 2017.
The PPAC commends the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), the Office of Patents Information Management (OPIM) and the entire USPTO organization for the smoothness of implementing DAV usage. The DAV deployment sets the stage for the deployment of the other key components of PE2E, such as a new advanced examiner search tool and authoring tool for official correspondence (e.g., office actions), as well as the eventual retirement of the USPTO’s legacy systems whose outdated custom design dates back to the 1980s. Although the PPAC is delighted with the progress so far, it recognizes that there are costs and risks associated with “changing the wheels while the car is moving forward” - maintaining two sets of systems as newer, modern systems replace the old ones. This is a set of projects which, if delayed or only partially completed, would leave the USPTO in a state where it is paying a higher, ongoing cost without any real return. The USPTO will need to manage the budget carefully to guard against these risks.
At the same time as PE2E projects steamed ahead in FY 2015, the USPTO had several key projects to support international cooperation and work sharing. The USPTO’s commitment to the Cooperative Patent Classification system (CPC), the conversion from a U.S. system for classifying patents by subject area to an international standard, required extensive technology support, and the OCIO stepped up to help, leveraging a system used in trademarks to help examiners automate the assignment of applications using CPC codes. The OCIO developed a web-based system to allow public access in the U.S. to foreign patents, which was released in first quarter FY 2016. These international initiatives continued to receive attention and priority, which in turn can help to improve patent quality; it is now possible for the members of the Patent Examining Corps to perform searches that include prior art from not only the USPTO, but also the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China (SIPO).
The PE2E projects are required in order to replace antiquated systems, which are currently being used by the USPTO for handling back-end application data as well as other outdated tools. The OCIO plans to begin deployment of the new examiner search system and official correspondence (OC) tool early in FY 2017.
The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) has begun a Shared Services program to address the issue of redundant services within the DOC, while at the same time improving delivery of these support functions. As the DOC begins to establish these shared services, the PPAC urges the USPTO to ensure that the examiners and the stakeholders will maintain the same or better level of service and security.
The PPAC heartily recognizes and endorses the pre-planning and steps taken by the OCIO in regards to its contingency plan when both primary and backup power systems (all four) catastrophically failed in December 2015. The damage presented a temporarily catastrophic event that no amount of pre-planning could completely compensate for. The USPTO was able to carry out some (but not all) of its functions because of pre-planning. The power outage (which did damage key portions of the USPTO’s IT systems) demonstrated the need to upgrade and modernize the IT hardware. Bringing in spare parts for these old systems from around the world was hardly a desirable situation. The PPAC and the OCIO find this to be an unacceptable vulnerability.
While the decline in fee collections for FY 2015 negatively impacted IT at the USPTO, FY 2016 saw a slight rebound. The USPTO has managed its IT improvements well, given both the uptick in fee collections for FY 2016 and available reserve funding. The PPAC notes that slowing IT modernization will cause significant and possibly irreversible harm without any long-term cost savings; thus these projects must continue to be funded. The PPAC also notes the importance of systems that foster international work sharing and cooperation as well as customer-facing IT systems, with the proviso that careful budget management and prioritization must apply to all projects. The PPAC finally observes that the increase in computing capabilities will serve to enhance patent quality, which both the USPTO and the PPAC see as essential to the proper functioning of a modern, world-class patent office.
In FY 2016, expenditures and collections tracked closely to what had been forecasted. Collections grew, compared to FY 2015, but still lagged FY 2014. The growth in collections has been in large part due to an increase in RCE filings. The growth in spending has flattened in FY 2015 and FY 2016. However, spending requirements have exceeded collections in both years, leading to a drawdown in the Patent Operating Reserve.
The USPTO is taking proactive steps to assure long term fiscal health while protecting the expenditures necessary to improve patent quality, control pendency, and upgrade the IT infrastructure. In early FY 2016, the USPTO comprehensively reviewed and prioritized its spending. Furthermore, the USPTO completed a fee review process in FY 2015 and sent a patent fee adjustment proposal to the PPAC for review and comments on October 27, 2015. Subsequently, the PPAC solicited public input, held a public hearing, and published a report with its views of the fee adjustment proposal (attached as Appendix 2). Although having concerns with individual fee adjustments, the PPAC and the stakeholders were highly supportive of a reasonable fee structure that would provide more revenue to the USPTO. The USPTO issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the proposed fee changes on October 3, 2016. The fee structure proposed in the NPRM shows that the USPTO took careful consideration of the input from the public and the PPAC, addressing some key stakeholder concerns. The USPTO expects to issue a final rule setting new fees after receiving public comments on the NPRM. The adjusted fees are planned to go into effect in August 2017.
The USPTO is displaying sound management of the funds it collects, carefully prioritizing its needs to assure the long-term health of the patent system. The fee review and fee setting processes are working as designed. However, the USPTO’s fee setting authority is currently scheduled to sunset in September, 2018. The PPAC and other stakeholders believe that the USPTO’s fee setting authority should be made permanent. Furthermore, Congress and the next Administration should respond favorably to the USPTO’s requests for authority to spend its collected fees in FY 2017 and FY 2018. After receiving public comments on the NPRM, the USPTO should move forward with fee adjustments that provide the necessary increase in revenue, while addressing the concerns noted in the PPAC’s fee setting report. Also, the USPTO should continue to carefully prioritize spending and not assume a return to historical filing growth rates.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) continued to be busy in FY 2016. As of September 30, 2016, the Board has received a grand total of 5,680 petitions under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA): 5,143 IPR petitions; 476 covered business method (CBM) petitions; 37 post grant review (PGR) petitions; and 24 derivation petitions. The majority of petitions continue to be filed in the electrical/computer software area, although the number of filings has risen this year in the biotechnology area. In particular, the petition filings by area of technology were: 59% electrical/computer software; 25% mechanical; 9% biotechnology/pharmaceutical; 6% chemical; and <1 % design. With respect to IPRs, CBMs, and PGRs, patent owners have submitted 4,051 preliminary responses and waived their rights to submit a preliminary response in 754 cases. In addition, 440 AIA cases settled in FY 2016. The PPAC is pleased with the patent owner's usage of preliminary responses, waivers, and settlements because these options are not available in ex parte and inter partes reexamination proceedings. Lastly, the PTAB issued 1,214 final written decisions in IPR proceedings, 143 in CBM proceedings, and 3 in PGR proceedings.
The backlog of ex parte appeals pending at the Board stands at 15,448 appeals as of September 30, 2016. The backlog averaged about 18,784 appeals for the year. The backlog trend has exhibited a significant downward trajectory for the year, with the peak reaching 21,543 appeals in October 2015 and decreased to a backlog of 15,448 appeals at the end of FY 2016.
In FY 2016, the USPTO implemented substantive trial rule changes that had the following effects:
|●||Allowed new testimonial evidence to be submitted with a patent owner’s preliminary response;|
|●||Added a Rule 11-type certification for papers filed in a PTAB proceeding;|
|●||Allowed a district court-type construction approach for claims of patents that will expire before entry of a final written decision; and|
|●||Replaced the current page limit with a word count limit for major briefing.|
In addition to changes to the trial rules, the PTAB issued 7 precedential opinions this year addressing issues arising in AIA trials. Several of these opinions address matters of PTAB practice and set binding precedent for handling of procedural matters in PTAB trials. Other opinions address matters of statutory interpretation in cases of first impression.
The PPAC applauds the PTAB for the work it has done since the passage of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA). As evidenced by the record, there have been more than 5,500 IPR, CBM, and PGR petitions since the PTAB proceedings went into effect in 2012. In FY 2016, 1,696 petitions were filed. These petitions are often directed to patents in corresponding litigation so the importance of these PTAB proceedings remains critical to stakeholders. The PTAB proceedings took on an additional layer of scrutiny in FY 2016 as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court rendered critical decisions in the PTAB space. Moreover, Congress has been closely following the PTAB developments and held hearings on patent reform where proposed changes to the USPTO’s PTAB rules were hotly debated. The PPAC recommends that the PTAB remain vigilant in rendering its decisions and continue its positive outreach efforts to educate the stakeholder community on important developments in the PTAB area.
The substantive PTAB rules changes that went into effect in FY 2016 were a positive step forward. For example, an important aspect of the substantive rule changes gave the patent owner the right to file a newly prepared expert declaration in the patent owner’s preliminary response. Prior to this change, the petitioner had the right to submit such declaratory evidence, but the patent owner did not have such opportunity as of right. This change makes the PTAB process more balanced. The PPAC recommends that the PTAB continue to review proposed rule changes to continue to hone the efficiency and fairness of the PTAB process.
The PPAC applauds the USPTO’s deployment of its new PTAB End-to-End (E2E) IT system on July 11, 2016, to replace the basic PRPS filing system deployed on September 16, 2012.
With respect to AIA statistics, the PPAC recommends that the USPTO routinely update stakeholders with the latest and most accurate AIA statistics. These statistics are a valuable tool in making decisions regarding whether to take certain actions during a PTAB proceeding, such as filing a patent owner preliminary response or filing a claim amendment.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to evaluate the conduct of the administrative processes of the PTAB proceedings, educate the stakeholder community on current developments, and make improvements in the process consistent with the AIA. Some stakeholders continue to believe that the PTAB proceedings unduly favor petitioners, while others believe that the proceedings are fair. In fact, in FY 2016, there has been significant debate in Congress with respect to the fairness of the IPR proceedings. The PTAB roundtables, Boardside chats, and rule changes have helped to address stakeholders’ concerns, but the USPTO needs to remain vigilant in this regard.
The USPTO continued to make improvements to decrease pendency to first action and total pendency during FY 2016. As a result, total pendency for utility, plant and reissue (UPR) applications, as of June 30, 2016, was reduced by about one month as compared to FY 2015, and pendency to first action was reduced by about 1.2 months, also as of June 30, 2016, as compared to FY 2015.
With respect to design applications, pendency and unexamined design application inventory were slightly volatile compared to UPR applications. Total pendency in FY 2016, as of June 30, 2016, was 0.4 months longer than reported in FY 2015, as of July 2015, while first action pendency in FY 2016, June 30, 2016, was 1.4 months shorter than reported for FY 2015, July 2016. The PPAC is not concerned by this slight volatility in the pendency of design applications and unexamined application inventory. However, as with pendency in general, the PPAC encourages the USPTO to continue its efforts to reduce both design application pendencies and unexamined application inventories at a sustained rate.
On reporting pendency data, the PPAC reiterates its urging that the USPTO publish pendency data that actually reflects the entirety of time required from the date of filing to the time a patent grants or final abandoment as the case may be. Current Traditional Total Pendency does not take into account the at-times very long period required for action on RCEs; however, the USPTO tracks Traditional Total Pendency including RCEs and pendency of applications, which include at least one RCE, on the USPTO Visualization Center https://www.uspto.gov/corda/dashboards/patents/main.dashxml?CTNAVID=1004. The PPAC urges the USPTO to utilize available technologies to provide patent stakeholders with timely and meaningful data, and the Patent Examining Corps with tools, technologies, and resources that will improve patent quality and reduce pendency at the same time.
Unexamined utility patent application inventory in FY 2016, as of July 25, 2015, was 5,450 applications less than FY 2015 levels, with a current unexamined inventory of 547,771 applications. The USPTO’s 2019 target is 385,500 unexamined applications, which means that another 162,271 applications will need to be removed from the inventory in the next 26 or so months. Whether this target is ultimately met, the key goal is for the USPTO to continue to appreciably reduce the unexamined inventory going forward.
The PPAC believes the reduction of pendency can be attributed in part to the reduction in the UPR examiner attrition rate, which for FY 2016, as of June 30, 2016, is 3.5%, not including transfers and retirees, as compared to 4.3% for FY 2015, also not including transfers and retirees. And, as in FY 2015, the maturation of new examiners, in combination with the USPTO and POPA’s new mentoring initiative whereby senior examiners are paired with junior examiners with the goal of sharing tried-and-true best practices and institutional knowledge, are also effective undertakings responsible for this favorable trend.
The PPAC commends the USPTO for the initiatives designed to reduce pendencies and unexamined application inventories, while improving patent quality. The Track One Program is an example of a successful program that brings value to the patent stakeholders.
The Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) continues to be a valuable contributor to lowering pendency, and this bodes well for stakeholders whose applications are being examined more quickly in multiple offices and often lowering their total cost.
With respect to the USPTO’s recent implementation of the Post Grant Outcomes Pilot where examiners with progeny applications are given access to the entire IPR record of a related patent, the PPAC supports the disclosure of all information relevant to the progeny application, with the objective of improving patent quality. The PPAC has identified several issues which should be addressed in the pilot. The pilot should include a mechanism for recording in the record what materials are accessed from the IPR by the examiner and because materials such as the petitioner’s expert declarations and other litigation-prepared papers such as petitioner’s briefs are naturally biased, the PPAC believes training should be provided to the examiners regarding the materials being accessed. Further evaluation of the details and process of sharing all information submitted in IPR proceedings to examiners with progeny applictions is mandated given the potential issues that can arise.
The PPAC believes that pendency is part and parcel of the USPTO’s mission to ensure U.S. patent quality. Paramount to a strong U.S. patent system and equally strong U.S. economy is the expeditious examination and allowance of meritorious patents, provided that such patents are clear, concise, and compliant with all patent statutes. The PPAC notes, however, that reducing pendency in a vacuum brings little if any value to the patentholder if the patent granted lacks durability when challenged in post-grant proceedings before the PTAB or the courts.
The PPAC rcommends that the USPTO publish pendency data that actually reflects the entirety of time required from the date of filing to the time a patent grants or final abandoment as the case may be.
The PPAC also recommends that the USPTO continue to appreciably reduce the unexamined application inventory and meet its FY 2019 target of 385,500 applications.
On the USPTO’s initiatives relating to patent quality and pendency, the PPAC sees tremendous value in the Track One initiative where the petition grant to allowance cycle is 6.6 months. The USPTO’s threshold of granting up to 10,000 applications per year for Track One status is nearly reached, signifying the success and value of this program to the patent stakeholders. As such, the PPAC recommends that the USPTO make it permanent, at least until the desired pendency and aging unexamined inventory levels are reached.
The PPAC recommends that the Post Grant Outcomes Pilot be further evaluated with extensive input from stakeholders because a number of issues have been identified that mandate consideration by the USPTO. In this pilot, examiners with progeny applications are given access to the entire IPR record of a related patent and the PPAC supports the disclosure of all information relevant to the progeny application. Because, however, materials such as the petitioner’s expert declarations and other litigation-prepared papers such as petitioner’s briefs are naturally biased, the PPAC believes training should be provided to the examiners that these materials represent just one view. Also, a process for documenting what the examiner accesses from the IPR and on what date needs to be developed to ensure a complete and accurate record exists concerning the materials reviewed and considered by the exmainer.
The PPAC looks forward to working with the USPTO to develop initiatives that couple patent quality and patent pendency. These steps must be closely tied to initiatives directed to improving patent quality, reducing pendency, and addressing the RCE backlog.
Importantly, the PPAC recommends that the USPTO work closely with POPA to ensure a strong and efficient Patent Examining Corps and provide, to the extent it can be budgeted, state-of-the-art, secure, and robust tools, continuing education in technology, training and access to external resources for searching to address the most common hurdles examiners face when examining applications for patents. Not only is this a worthy investment to ensure the health of the U.S. economy for decades to come, it is also a necessary improvement to the sole agency that is the gatekeeper and champion of the country’s innovation that has been wanting for years. The time for budgetary temporizing has passed.
The backlog of RCEs has increased to 27,394 as of the end of FY 2016. This represents an increase of 1.8% over the backlog of 26,901 at the end of FY 2015, but still represents an impressive reduction of nearly 76% since the high mark in the RCE backlog was reached in FY 2013, in spite of an increase in RCE filings of over 13% over FY 2015.
Following the move of RCEs from the examiner’s amended docket to the special continuing docket, the backlog of RCEs ballooned from about 17,000 in October 2009 to almost 112,000 in February of 2013. However, focused attention on RCEs resulted in a steady reduction of the backlog to 26,901 by the end of FY 2015. At the beginning of FY 2016, the RCE backlog rebounded by about 32% and remained relatively steady through August of FY 2016, but decreased in September to end FY 2016 at 27,394. Additionally, the USPTO focused efforts on moving the oldest RCEs out of the backlog and into examination. This resulted in a reduction of the percentage of the RCE backlog that was awaiting examination four months from the RCE request to 24.7% at the end of FY 2016, compared to 32.7% of the RCE backlog at the end of FY 2015, and 52% of the RCE backlog at the end of FY 2014. This is a commendable achievement. Although the backlog of RCEs has increased, the percentage of RCEs awaiting action four months from filing the request has continued to decrease. However, the average total pendency of the application in which one or more RCEs have been filed remains twice the average total pendency of an application without an RCE filing.
The PPAC recommends exploring an avenue for resolution of issues in prosecution other than an appeal to the PTAB, such as permitting participation in a full two-way dialog interview in the P3 program, the pre-appeal brief conference or the appeal conference, which would permit an interview having a two-way dialog between the applicant and with multiple primary examiners in addition to the examiner of record. The PPAC appreciates the implementation of the P3 program but that permits only a presentation, not a full interview and the materials are limited to a five-page submission. Allowing a back and forth in an interview in the P3 program would be more effective in resolving the issues and allowing an in-person interview would also resolve more issues, reducing the need for an RCE or appeal to the PTAB.
The PPAC also recommends that the USPTO place RCEs on the amended docket or at least establish a goal of four months to completion of an action, as well as having a goal for total prosecution pendency for applications in which an RCE has been filed. The PPAC recommends that the USPTO focus on improving the quality of final rejections. The pre-appeal brief and appeal brief conference results show a significant number of unsustainable final rejections. This suggests that other final rejections are improper leading to at least some of the RCEs filed. The PPAC recommends providing the opportunity for the entry of two responses as a matter of right in each application and/or providing an option for paying for the consideration of one more amendment after a final rejection to reduce the need for appeals or filing of RCEs. In addition, the PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue working on after final programs, such as the After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) 2.0, and other such programs to provide entry of amendments after final rejection. The PPAC further supports having programs which encourage examiners to consider and enter amendments after final to place the application in better condition for appeal or to make the case allowable. Finally, the PPAC recommends a review of compact prosecution to determine whether or not it contributes to the high number of RCEs filed.
The USPTO continues to show a strong commitment, in concert with the user and stakeholder community, to make current and future improvements in the complex and costly international patent filing system. The Office of Policy and International Affairs (OPIA), headed by the Chief Policy Officer and Director for International Affairs, leads agency efforts to formulate and execute U.S. domestic and international intellectual property (IP) policy. This includes promoting the development of high-quality systems for the protection and enforcement of IP nationally and internationally as well as negotiating international agreements, including cooperation agreements with other patent offices. The Office of International Patent Cooperation (OIPC), established in 2014 and headed by the Deputy Commissioner for International Patent Cooperation, enables the USPTO to focus dedicated resources to implement its international patent cooperation agreements and initiatives, including to provide optimized business process solutions to the international patent examination system for examiners and external stakeholders.
During the past year, the OPIA and the OIPC have created a cohesive and strategic approach regarding international initiatives and activities throughout the USPTO, while also continually seeking extensive feedback and input from the user and stakeholder community to help improve quality, efficiency, timeliness and predictability with regard to U.S. and global patent prosecution. The USPTO has also worked to promote the development of intellectual property systems internationally and has advocated for improvements in, and more effective means of promoting and enforcing intellectual property rights throughout the world through cooperation, work sharing, and outreach.
The PPAC supports the efforts made by the USPTO this year in its international cooperation, work sharing and outreach initiatives among multiple patent offices and encourages the continued development and expansion of these efforts. Examples of such efforts include substantive patent law harmonization initiatives via the IP5 Offices1 and the Group B+ Patent Offices2, the Global Dossier Initiative and its implementation by the USPTO, the Access to Relevant Prior Art Initiative, the Collaborative Search Pilot Programs (CSP) with JPO and KIPO, the continued usage and extension of the PPH to additional countries as well as the reduction in the PPH petition backlog, the Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, and the creation of the Industrial Design Forum (ID5). These efforts not only make improvements to the international patent filing system but also improve patent examination quality and efficiency globally.
1 EPO, JPO, KIPO, SIPO and USPTO are collectively known as the "IP5 Patent Offices."
2 The Group B+ Patent Offices consist of the following members: the European Union's 28 member states, U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea, EPO and the European Commission (EC).
Over the past two years, the PPAC has watched the USPTO continue to focus its international initiatives, projects and goals for the betterment of the USPTO’s operations. The PPAC commends the USPTO for the creation and implementation of the OIPC and applauds the extensive efforts and work of both the OIPC and the OPIA. The PPAC further commends the USPTO in its international cooperation and work sharing initiatives with multiple patent offices around the world and recommends more in depth dialogue on “global quality” with these offices.
To support the USPTO commitment to its international initiatives, the PPAC further recognizes the ongoing financial needs of the USPTO for a secure and modern IT infrastructure and strongly supports and recommends stable IT funding along with continued upgrades to its IT infrastructure on a regular basis.
The PPAC again recommends that the USPTO repeatedly review its efforts to ensure that its international initiatives promote quality and timeliness and encourages the USPTO to find new and innovative ways to improve, expand and enhance such efforts, while being mindful of the needs and concerns of the stakeholder and user community with regard to a changing global patent arena, in FY 2017.
The value in an organization comes from its people, and the USPTO has been fortunate to have been able to build and retain a workforce of dedicated examiners. Quality of examination of patent applications is the heart of the mission of the USPTO, and the work done to hire, train and retain examiners is critically important to the success of the USPTO.
There have been many activities related to human capital in FY 2016. The USPTO has hired new examiners consistent with current and projected budgets. The regional offices have continued to hire and are likely to be fully staffed by FY 2017. In addition, the USPTO has undertaken a significant amount of work to train its workforce, while continuing to embrace initiatives that attract new talent and improve retention. Importantly, the USPTO continues to do internal surveys to solicit input from employees on what things are working well, and to identify areas for improvement, which is a sign of a healthy organization.
With respect to retention, the USPTO saw a decrease in the attrition rate from 5.6% in FY 2015 to approximately 3.5% in FY 2016; excluding transfers and retirees from the data, the attrition rates fall to 4.3% in FY 2015, and approximately 3.3% in FY 2016. This drop in attrition rate is noteworthy, and is a result of efforts at the USPTO to provide a positive working environment through responsiveness to employee feedback, improved systems and training.
To continue its focus on productivity and quality, the USPTO has instituted and furthered a number of important initiatives to make the most of its current Patent Examining Corps. These include: developing a nationwide workforce, upgrading IT systems, and providing comprehensive training. In particular, the USPTO has been successful in developing a workforce that includes employees who participate in telework programs or work from the USPTO regional offices in Detroit, Denver, Silicon Valley, or Dallas. These telework programs have greatly reduced costs while allowing the USPTO to attract top talent to its Patent Examining Corps.
Several third party reviews of the USPTO operations, including its teleworking programs, have recently taken place, including:
1. National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report dated July 31, 2015, titled “The United States Patent and Trademark Office: An Internal Controls and Telework Program Review”;
2. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report GAO-16-490 dated June 2016 titled “Patent Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve Clarity”;
3. GAO report GAO-16-479 titled “Patent Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor Examiners' Work”; and
4. The U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General (OIG) report OIG-14-0990 dated August 2016 titled “Analysis of Patent Examiners’ Time and Attendance”.
The USPTO has taken affirmative steps to implement improvements in response to the NAPA report, including specific training held in FY 2016. The USPTO concurred with each of the recommended actions in the GAO reports and is implementing appropriate actions.
The OIG undertook a comprehensive review of data related to more than 8,400 of the USPTO’s approximately 10,000 patent examiners. The OIG made six recommendations, which will be reviewed by the USPTO. While that review is being undertaken, the PPAC would note that the data in the OIG report was from 2014 and 2015, which was at a time before the USPTO implemented a number of improvements related to time and attendance in response to the NAPA report.
The PPAC believes that the USPTO takes very seriously the requirement that examiners work the full number of hours for which they are paid and has taken actions against some examiners for whom it could be documented that they were not following the policies for time and attendance. Footnote 2 of the OIG report acknowledges that the OIG did not recommend any actions against examiners be taken based on this report because of possible noncompliance with Federal Rules regarding such actions.
The potential unsupported time alleged by the OIG was about 2% which fell to 1.6% after implementation of steps resulting from the NAPA report. Being able to document 98% or greater of employees’ time seems quite good. While the tools used by the OIG in its evaluation were designed for other purposes, the USPTO does have a robust set of measures that track the output and quality of the work that patent examiners perform, including percentage achievement of a production goal, achievement of pendency goals and quality assessment. These measures hold examiners accountable for completing a dictated amount of work within set time periods at a proscribed level of quality, establishing, it is contended, a level of accountability beyond what many workers, in the public or private sector face.
Although the examiners rely on electronic means for doing their work, many continue to print out documents for review and analysis or do occasional work on another computer. Thus, the PPAC agrees that the lack of a digital footprint is not evidence that an examiner was not working. Additionally, patent examiners frequently work hours that they do not claim on their time sheets, that is, voluntary overtime (VOT), to achieve the necessary level of work and quality, but this time was disregarded by the OIG.
The USPTO is evaluating the time allocated to examiners to complete the examination of patent applications. It is noted, however, that the GAO report found that perhaps examiners need more time to do their work, the exact opposite of the suggestion by the OIG. Computers used by the examiners to identify prior art locate more art than in the past and the job of evaluating that prior art and the claims remains an intellectual process requiring time and at least for now, a person.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to support, promote, and expand the Patent Hoteling Program (PHP) and other telework programs, which permit examiners to work from remote locations. These programs allow the USPTO to attract and retain technical talent to achieve its mission that might not otherwise be available to work as examiners. In this regard, the Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program (TEAPP) ends or expires on December 8, 2017, and the PPAC strongly urges that legislative action be taken to extend this program. TEAPP has been very successful in attracting and retaining talent, and the loss of this additional tool would have significant negative consequences for the USPTO and its user community. Additionally, implementing an exit strategy would be disruptive to ongoing USPTO operations.
The PPAC recognizes the significant efforts undertaken to provide training to teleworking examiners and supervisors to improve employee engagement, morale, and enhance quality, and the effort to train supervisors responsible for the examiners in order to address issues identified in third party reports. The PPAC strongly supports these efforts and urges the USPTO to continue its efforts in this regard to inculcate these improvements in the culture of the organization. Further, the PPAC encourages the USPTO to reach out to the PPAC and others for continued input and suggestions on ways to sustain and maintain the expected improvements from this training.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO consider the OIG report and continue to evaluate the policies and procedures to ensure that employees understand and are following the time and attendance rules.
The PPAC understands that the USPTO is continuing to evaluate a shared services model as part of a broader program within the DOC. This proposal would include a new model for providing human resources support to the USPTO. The PPAC strongly encourages the USPTO to review this proposal carefully to ensure that its potential impacts are fully and well understood before implementation. It is very important to maintain the positive work environment that resulted in the USPTO being ranked #1 among agency subcomponents as the Best Place to Work in the Federal Government in FY 2013 and #2 in FY 2014.
The mission of the Office of Innovation Development (OID) is to increase the transparency and accessibility of the patent system to unrepresented and/or under-resourced inventors. These inventors can be found in startups, incubators, universities, meet up groups, inventor groups, and working alone in workshops and garages. To help these stakeholders, the OID conducts educational outreach programming and to that end the OID has added several new initiatives to its repertoire of outreach programs and events. For the past several years, the OID has conducted university outreach using the talents of a pool of outreach SPEs from the Patent Examining Corps; the universities are chosen based on the USPTO’s hiring goals/job fairs and the number of engineering students, with attention to numbers of minority students. Since the 1990s, the OID’s flagship event has been its inventor conference and this year’s event was held in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Salt Lake City.
New on the horizon for the OID this year was its effort to reach out to independent inventor groups such as the Minnesota Inventors Network and the Florida-based Edison Innovators Association; these groups of inventors sponsor gatherings where they share information and best practices.
In addition to bringing its programs to new audiences, the OID is also developing new programs. As an adjunct to the popular Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, the OID has worked with the Director’s Office to build roundtables based on the gender gap in patenting and entrepreneurship. The OID has received requests for this program content from across the country and presented that content in both New York, New York and Wilmington, Delaware.
By virtue of their locations across the nation, the Regional Offices (ROs) are well-situated to be able to serve the USPTO stakeholders in their own backyards. The partnering of the ROs with the OID has provided a vehicle for hosting programs within the regions. Thus, a particular area of focus in FY 2016 has been the coordination of the OID’s activities by the Alexandria Headquarters and the ROs. Each of the ROs has a Director in place, and the OID and the Regional Directors have regular contact to discuss outreach opportunities and coordinate closely on outreach to communities served by the ROs. This coordination provides an outstanding ability of the ROs to play a significant role in reaching audiences to discuss the USPTO, the patent system, and the importance of IP and its role in fostering innovation that might not have otherwise occurred.
The PPAC continues to strongly support the outreach efforts of the OID. The PPAC recognizes the importance of the ROs in enhancing the outreach efforts of the USPTO. With the newness of the ROs, it is natural that there will be some intersections in these outreach efforts. It is recommended that the Regional Directors and the OID continue their close cooperation on outreach efforts, with particular attention given to those in the local communities that may not have been adequately served when all outreach activities were centered in the Alexandria Headquarters. The PPAC also recommends developing plans for at least one or more PPAC quarterly meetings to be held at the ROs, to further the goals of both the ROs as well as the PPAC in gathering relevant stakeholder involvement in the USPTO’s public engagement.
Enactment of additional patent reform in the remaining months of the 114th Congress (2015-2016) is unlikely. Largely similar bills, H.R. 9 (the Innovation Act) and S. 1137 (the PATENT Act), were approved by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, respectively, in June 2015. Both bills were designed to address allegedly abusive patent litigation practices and attempt to increase transparency in the patent system. Progress of the bills was stalled when consensus could not be reached among stakeholder groups on several controversial provisions including, in particular, substantive changes to the scope and administration of the USPTO’s post-grant review proceedings and litigation fee shifting provisions. However, discussions continue regarding a possible path forward that might include crafting a new, scaled-back package of reforms that combines a venue provision along with certain parts of the House or Senate bill, such as the customer-suit stay, demand letter and transparency provisions. Venue reform in patent infringement cases is of particular interest to many stakeholders because of statistics indicating that active forum shopping has resulted in the great majority of cases being filed in a limited number of federal district courts.
While stakeholders have different views regarding the appropriate composition of a new patent reform bill, the PPAC was pleased to see that most all were united in supporting enactment of S. 1890, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. The bill was signed into law (P.L. 114-153) on May 11, 2016, following near-unanimous votes of 87-0 in the Senate and 410-2 in the House. The new law establishes a Federal civil private cause of action for trade secret theft that provides U.S. businesses with a more uniform, reliable, and predictable means of protecting their valuable trade secrets anywhere in the country. Effective protection of valuable trade secrets helps promote the innovation that is a key engine of our nation's economy.
Leadership of the USPTO have testified before various committees in Congress. And the USPTO continues to monitor and advise Congress and the White House on pending legislation regarding intellectual property and the operations of the USPTO. Making the temporary fee setting authority granted to the USPTO under the AIA permanent remains a key priority for the USPTO.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to engage decision makers and other stakeholders to help ensure that any proposed legislative or administrative changes are appropriately crafted and narrowly targeted without adversely affecting the overall patent system, especially in terms of balance and fairness to all stakeholders, the efficient operation of the examination process, the quality of patents issued, or the overall costs and burdens to patent owners and other participants in the patent system. The PPAC also recommends that the USPTO stay abreast of potential suggested legislative changes regarding subject matter eligibility (35 U.S.C. § 101). Further, the USPTO should work within the Administration and with Congress to ensure that it continues to retain its current fee setting authority as well as access to all future fee collections regardless of any government-wide sequestration or other limitation.
In addition, as noted, the TEAPP ends or expires on December 8, 2017, and the PPAC strongly urges that legislative action be taken to extend this program, to continue to support, promote, and expand the PHP and other telework programs, which permit examiners to work from remote locations. The TEAPP has been very successful in attracting and retaining talent, and the loss of this additional tool would have significant negative consequences for the USPTO and its user community and be disruptive to ongoing USPTO operations.
The issuance of high quality patents with a reasonable pendency remains the most important priority for the USPTO, patent applicants and the public. High patent quality, including issued patents with appropriate scope, clear, definite claims and clarity of the record, is of paramount importance in a global economy to reduce uncertainty in the marketplace and unnecessary conflict, and to help drive the U.S. economy. Director Michelle Lee established patent quality as the major focus of her tenure during FY 2015, and continued that focus by expanding quality initiatives and programs throughout FY 2016. This emphasis is endorsed by the PPAC because issuing high quality patents is extremely valuable to the patent community and public.
The PPAC believes that patents are invaluable to inventors and the public because patents foster innovation, fuel the establishment of small companies, and deliver amazing technological advances and inventions which become an integral part of everyday life. The patent system has been under tremendous stress and scrutiny regarding what subject matter is eligible for patents, the quality of patents and their ultimate value to society. The PPAC vigorously believes in a strong patent system that rewards creativeness and investment to deliver the valuable advances to the consumer. An essential piece of this equation remains high patent quality, that is: early identification of the most relevant prior art, evaluation of the claims against that prior art, clear and concise communications from the USPTO, application of the proper legal standards, and allowance of claims of the appropriate scope. It must be remembered, however, that the USPTO system has been designed to give high quality for a reasonable price but cannot of course deliver perfection. The various post grant programs provide options for relevant interested stakeholders to reasonably cost-effectively review those patents which may need correction. The PPAC does, however, believe that the USPTO can continue to enhance the quality of the work process and product within the current system and fee framework.
The PPAC applauds this emphasis on quality and the continued steps undertaken in FY 2016 to enhance patent quality.
The USPTO continued to evaluate the current patent quality and how it is monitored, measured and reported out to the public for ways to more consistently and uniformly evaluate the quality of the work product and provide meaningful data regarding the communications to applicants during prosecution of pending applications and the final patents issued.
During FY 2015, the USPTO established regular Quality Chats, focusing on different aspects of patent quality and has continued these presentations into FY 2016. These chats are a valuable window on current policy and information about quality and the USPTO. The dates and times of these ongoing quality chats can be located on the USPTO website at: http://www.uspto.gov/patent/initiatives/patent-quality-chat.
The USPTO has conducted an External Quality Survey (EQS) semi-annually since 2006, with the most recent being completed during FY 2016. The EQS surveyed 3,000 frequent-filing customers and from FY 2011 to FY 2015 was included in the Patent Quality Composite. It is considered a vital quality indicator and will continue to be run but reported out as an individual quality assessment.
Below is a chart showing the perception of the product or the quality of the rejections being made by those filers who responded to the survey.
It can be seen that the statistics from FY 2007 through the present show relatively unchanged perceptions of the rejections by statute with the exception of a drop in the opinions about rejections made under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The survey, however, does show room for improvement in the perception of all rejections being advanced. One new area of focus by the USPTO is on the consistency of the quality and rejections among the examiners. The below chart shows the survey results regarding the perception of consistency of quality among the examiners.
As can be seen from the above chart, there is a perception of inconsistency of examination quality from one examiner to another by those responding to the survey. Although absolute consistency is unrealistic, the PPAC encourages the USPTO to focus on improving consistency among patent examiners. The differences in the quality of the work, the application of prior art, and correct or incorrect application of the law following arguments by applicant can mean higher costs and significant amounts of time in a delayed patent term for some applicants.
Below is a chart showing the perception of overall quality as relayed by those responding to the survey over the years of FY 2007 to FY 2016.
Two trends are apparent from this chart. The percentage of respondents reporting the quality as good or excellent has steadily increased from a low of 27% in FY 2009 to 54% in FY 2016. At the same time the percentage of respondents reporting the quality as poor or very poor has steadily decreased from a high of 25% in FY 2009 to 9% in FY 2016. These are very good trends and reflect well on the efforts made by the USPTO to focus on quality. The results demonstrate that more work needs to be done but the USPTO’s focus on quality improvement, including public meetings, gathering of information from applicants, transparent explanations of programs and various initiatives recently implemented should help these trends to continue moving in their current directions.
a. Patent Quality Community Symposium
On April 27, 2016, the USPTO held a Patent Quality Community Symposium at the Alexandria Headquarters and webcast the event, with the participation of over 2,200 individuals. Featured presentations by the USPTO personnel included updates on the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI), an explanation of the USPTO’s effort to use Big Data, the Quality Metrics to be used for FY 2016, and a Master Review Form (MRF) Workshop.
This was an important event for keeping the public and the patent community aware of the programs and changes being made at the USPTO to focus efforts on improving quality of the work product and processes.
The PPAC supports these initiatives and the continued outreach and information being provided by the USPTO to ensure transparency of the actions and the opportunities created for interactions with officials at the USPTO for a two-way flow of information.
During FY 2016, the USPTO proposed and implemented numerous new programs targeting improvement of the quality of the processes and the patent work products of the USPTO. To gather feedback on proposals, unveil new programs and engage in dialog with the public, the USPTO regularly holds public round tables, and meetings. For example, as noted above, the USPTO held a Patent Quality Community Symposium on April 27, 2016.
As a part of the Patent EPQI, the USPTO queried the public to seek specific areas that could be evaluated for compliance with regulations or policy or areas for quality enhancement. In certain areas they would perform an in-depth examination of applications with respect to a single issue to provide a better understanding of the quality of the work products. The case studies will assist in formulating best practices to enhance patent quality by improving the patent work products and examination processes, and to identify areas where further examiner training may be needed. Gleaned from the received suggestions, the USPTO selected:
1) Evaluation of the deviation of 35 U.S.C. § 101 rejections from official guidance, correctness of rejections and completeness of the analysis. This study will evaluate whether examiners are properly making subject matter eligibility rejections under 35 U.S.C. § 101 and clearly communicating their reasoning.
2) Review of consistency of the application of 35 U.S.C. § 101 across art units/technology centers. This study will take a look at applications with related technologies located in different art units or technology centers and determine whether similar claims are being treated dissimilarly under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
3) The practice of compact prosecution when 35 U.S.C. § 101 rejections are made. This study will determine whether all appropriate rejections are being made in a first office action when a subject matter eligibility issue is also identified.
4) Correctness and clarity of motivation statements in 35 U.S.C. § 103 rejections. This study will evaluate whether reasons for combining references set forth in rejections under 35 U.S.C. § 103 are being set forth clearly and with correct motivation to combine statements.
5) Enforcement of 35 U.S.C. § 112(a) written description in continuing applications. This study will evaluate claims in continuing applications to determine if they contain subject matter unsupported by an original parent application and whether examiners are appropriately enforcing the requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112(a) written description.
6) Consistent treatment of claims after the May 2014 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) training. This study will determine whether claims invoking 35 U.S.C. § 112(f) are being properly interpreted and treated.
These case studies will assist the USPTO in determining whether or not consistent and proper application of the laws, guidance and policy are being applied by the Patent Examining Corps and to what extent additional training is required.
The Clarity of the Record Pilot is one of the evolving programs of the EPQI. An objective is to identify best examiner practices for enhancing the clarity of various aspects of the prosecution record. In particular, the Pilot focuses on best practices regarding enhanced documentation of claim interpretation, more detailed interview summaries, and more precise reasons for allowance.
Clarity of the record is an important issue to allow the public to fully understand what occurs in a prosecution and to make clear the reasons any application is allowed to grant as a patent. The key is to provide a clear record throughout prosecution without requiring significant more time or effort from the Patent Examining Corps.
The Clarity and Correctness Data Capture (CCDC) Program was instituted to create an improved data capture system that enables all reviewers, from both the Office of Patent Quality Assurance (OPQA) and supervisors in the Technology Centers (TCs), to consistently document and access quality review data in one place. Historically, the USPTO reviews of finished work products, e.g., mailed office actions, were performed not only by reviewers in the OPQA, but also by reviewers in the TCs using different reviewing criteria, so the resulting data could not be aggregated or compared across reviewing areas. Consequently, only the OPQA reviews were systematically recorded for identification of trends across the Patent Examining Corps. In addition, all of these reviews mainly assessed the correctness or statutory compliance of the office action, with only a basic assessment of the clarity of the examiner’s position. As such, the USPTO’s quality metrics lacked an individual metric that assessed in detail the clarity of the USPTO’s finished work product.
To improve the quality evaluation process and to enhance the data gathered, the USPTO has replaced all previous review forms with a single, comprehensive review form, the MRF, which captures the correctness of the examiner’s determinations with respect to the substantive patentability requirements, as well as new inquiries on the clarity of each determination made in the office action under review. Thereby, the MRF provides standardized reviewing criteria for all reviewers in both OPQA and the TCs.
The PPAC believes that the new MRF, in concept, is an improvement by standardizing the quality reviews of the work, adding a review of the clarity of the communications and permitting aggregation of all evaluations completed into a single database. One concern is the length of the form and the associated possibility that complete reviews will be too time-consuming to complete in all areas of the USPTO undertaking such reviews. However, the PPAC believes the MRF to be an important step forward in providing a mechanism for more consistent reviews of the work.
This pilot was established to provide examiners of pending cases which are related (continuation, continuation-in-part, or divisional) to a patent undergoing IPR at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) with the prior art and papers submitted by the petitioner in the IPR. The pilot is gathering statistics and surveying the examiners on the usefulness of the materials from the IPR to identify best practices and identify potential targeted training for examiners. Objectives of the pilot include improved patentability determinations, creation of a bridge between the patent examiners and the PTAB, and a better understanding by the Patent Examining Corps of post grant processes.
Below is a chart showing the numbers of applications by TC, which have a parent patent in which an IPR has been filed.
The USPTO has developed a mechanism for providing the materials submitted with the petition in the IPR to the examiner examining a progeny application. Statistics being gathered regarding the examination of the related progeny application include the use of: any of the references cited in the IPR, the petitioner’s analysis, the PTAB analysis, expert declarations, or related litigation documents and analysis.
The PPAC believes this pilot is an important part of quality enhancement at the USPTO but there are several important issues that need more evaluation. The PPAC encourages the USPTO to make the sharing of IPR materials with examiners as simple and easy as possible to facilitate use of those materials. Because the USPTO is providing these documents to the examiner, the record must reflect that the examiner considered them. Because the IPR is a fluid record and new documents get added, the date that the IPR record was assessed and the date that the examiner reviewed them should both be provided in the record. This will establish what documents in that record were considered. The USPTO should consider how to record this in the file. Perhaps a PTOL-892 can be generated for the examiner to initial along with the date the materials were considered.
Regarding the pilot, it is also suggested that more oversight is needed for these related applications regarding allowances and final rejections to ensure that consistent actions are being taken by the two areas of the USPTO the Patent Examining Corps and the PTAB. The USPTO has noted that there are hundreds of pending related progeny applications of patents in IPR and there may be many more pending related non-progeny applications. It is very important that the USPTO handle these applications fairly, correctly, and consistently across the different areas of the USPTO. Because an allowance is a final action from the USPTO providing rights to applicant, those actions are more problematic if incorrect than a final rejection and thus deserve adequate scrutiny perhaps by a panel, rather than just the examiner.
Additionally, it also is suggested that the examiners should be trained to understand that the IPRs represent a contested proceeding and that arguments made by a petitioner are just one biased side of the issue, to be carefully considered and evaluated along with the arguments made by applicant. For examiners to adequately consider these documents, the USPTO is encouraged to fairly provide additional time to the examiners where appropriate.
The Post Prosecution Pilot (P3) program incorporated some features of two programs aimed at improving the final and after-final areas of prosecution. Some features of the After Final Consideration Pilot (AFCP) 2.0 program and the Pre-Appeal Brief Conference Pilot program, have been incorporated into a single program that adds new, requested features, such as providing applicants an opportunity to present arguments to a panel at a conference.
The P3 program began on July 11, 2016, and will run for six months or when 1,600 requests have been accepted into the P3 program, whichever comes first. Each individual technology center will accept no more than 200 compliant requests, meaning that the P3 program may close with respect to an individual technology center that has accepted 200 compliant requests, even as it continues to run in other technology centers that have yet to accept 200 compliant requests.
The P3 program is open to non-provisional and international utility applications filed under 35 U.S.C. § 111(a) or 35 U.S.C. § 371 that are under final rejection. The request to participate in the pilot must be filed via EFS-Web within two months of the mailing date of the final rejection and prior to filing a notice of appeal. The applicant will make an oral presentation to the panel of examiners, with such participation being limited to 20 minutes. The applicant will be informed of the panel’s decision in writing as to whether the rejection will be maintained or the application will be allowed or reopened.
The PPAC appreciates the implementation of the P3 program but it permits only a presentation to the three-member panel, not a full interview and the materials are limited to a five-page submission of arguments. Allowing a back and forth in an interview in the P3 program would be more effective in resolving the issues because the statistics of the USPTO demonstrate the effectiveness in resolving issues in applications increases with interviews. The stilted process provided in the P3 program undermines the potential effectiveness that could result from a more dynamic exchange of views that typically occurs in interviews, leading to a better understanding of the meaningful points and rebuttable points made by both sides.
The PPAC recommends that the P3 program continues to be reevaluated and modified based on experiences of the USPTO and participants to improve the process. While a full interview is preferable, the PPAC suggests an alternative. Following the presentation to the panel, the applicant could leave the room while the panel discusses the issues and subsequently afford the applicant an opportunity to hear some explanation and ask questions about the likely decision.
The PPAC applauds this new pilot and in fact, has been suggesting for several years that a program such as this be developed. Although the pilot does not have every feature suggested by the PPAC, it represents a step forward by allowing applicants to present arguments in person to a panel of examiners. It is hoped that this pilot will help to resolve some cases avoiding the need for either an RCE or an appeal and hoped that the USPTO will gather further stakeholder input and continue to refine the process. It is important that patent applicants provide their input to the USPTO on this and other pilot programs through surveys and comments to ensure that the USPTO understands the value and concerns about their programs from the public perspective.
The Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedures program (STEPP) is a 3-day training program for delivering intellectual property information and education to external customers. The training, delivered by the USPTO trainers, was derived from training materials developed and delivered to examiners and the USPTO employees and focuses on the life of an application from docketing to allowance. Topics include: The Role of a Patent Examiner, Claim Interpretation, Reading and Understanding a Patent Application, 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 112(a), and 112(b), Planning a Search, Mapping Art to Claims, Overview of 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 103, Writing an office action and Responding to Applicant, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), Double Patenting and Restrictions, and Central Reexam Unit (CRU).
The USPTO plans to deliver STEPP workshops in each of the four regional offices over the next four quarters, and will provide additional STEPP workshops at the Alexandria Headquarters a frequency yet to be determined.
Based on the topics being delivered and the reviews which have been provided by the participants of the first training sessions, this appears to be a worthwhile program, which the PPAC expects to become popular and useful. Understanding how examiners think and approach claims is a valuable lesson to practitioners to assist in more productive responses and approaches to office actions. Understanding how examiners approach claims with the “broadest reasonable interpretation” should be especially helpful for practitioners in evaluating the scope of presented claims and better understanding the advanced rejections in that regard.
The USPTO has been gathering and reporting quality metrics for decades but from FY 2011 through FY 2015, that data was rolled up into a weighted composite, which reflected a value incorporating the various individual measures. It was difficult to assess from the composite or even from its individual components whether the quality of issued patents had improved or not. These problems were further compounded by the fact that each factor in the composite was scaled as a percentage toward a theoretic goal, which could place an undue weight on certain factors while obscuring progress in others (e.g., when the goal was met in one area, further progress in that area no longer had any impact on the composite). Because the elements of the composite gauged different aspects of examiner behavior, and because even a given contributor to the composite, such as a survey, combined perceptions of the USPTO services and responsiveness with the apparent correctness of actions, it was extremely hard to use the composite to gain insight in specific areas. To many this composite was difficult to understand and did not convey a snapshot or meaningful identification of the overall quality of the work at the USPTO.
Following a request for comments by the public regarding the quality composite, the USPTO determined that the composite should not be continued and each measured quality of the products should be evaluated but reported separately. Additionally, the message from the public was that the quality of the work and the quality of the process should be reported separately and not merged together. Consequently, the USPTO is adopting that feedback in reporting out the quality as measured by their reviewers. During FY 2016, the MRF has been implemented in the review process and should assist in more consistent reviews of the completed work. The PPAC is pleased with this decision because it believes that individual measures without combining the numbers into a composite will allow the public to better understand the level of quality being performed and to see improvements in the quality as they occur.
Although the quality composite may have been severely flawed, it served a purpose, at least to some degree. At a coarse level, it shows the USPTO made progress in many areas over the years. At a more granular level, progress has been significant in some areas. For example, scores on the external quality survey more than doubled over a five-year period. There were improvements in all components, although some were fleeting or statistically insignificant. People and organizations do tend to improve in areas where they are measured. The focus going forward will be on making sure the emphasis is on the most important measures and improving the effectiveness and clarity of the metrics.
Below is a chart of metrics used by the USPTO to measure patent quality, with results since FY 2010, including the quality composite score and its components. The individual quality elements will continue to be measured but no longer rolled up into a composite.
Although the composite score will not be utilized, the individual measures of quality will continue to be evaluated. The reporting of the new quality metrics will begin in FY 2017. The current measures will be divided into groups to provide key product metrics, key process indicators, and vital perception indicators.
For the key product metrics during prosecution, the MRF will assess search, statutory compliance and clarity of the communication of a variety of office action types, including allowances, final rejection and First Action on the Merits (FAOM). Using uniform criteria, these reviews will be completed by reviewers to capture both the statutory compliance and clarity of the work product and entered into a single database.
The Key Process Indicators will utilize the Transactional Quality Index Reporting (QIR) to track the efficiency and consistency of the processes during examination. For example, utilizing the big data might allow the USPTO to identify “churning” of applications. The QIR can utilize data from the Patent Examining Corps, TC, or art unit levels to identify outliers from the norm. which may or may not signal an area of concern. The Key Process Indicators will include reopening prevention, rework reduction and consistency of decision making.
The Vital Perception Indicators will leverage the internal and external surveys done by the USPTO to gather opinions about the work being done inside and outside the USPTO. The surveys will be utilized to perform root cause analysis and validation or verification of the information gathered.
The PPAC applauds the move to report the individual quality measures without a composite score to provide a better representation of patent quality. Measuring the clarity of the actions as well as correctness also is a meaningful step forward in the assessment of the actual quality of the work product. It is noted that during FY 2016, 9.5% of the reviewed applications were tagged for additional search but in 24.7% of the reviewed applications, additional searching was done by the reviewers. This is an excellent outcome because the PPAC believes that quality starts with a complete first action search coupled with a comprehensive analysis of the claims and how and whether the prior art applies. Focusing the examiners on that initial search is critical to reducing rework, reducing RCEs, and improving the overall quality of the work product.
The USPTO currently has a program called Pre-Appeal Brief Conference in which an applicant may submit a five (5) page response outlining errors in the final rejection for review by a panel of three examiners, generally including the examiner of the application in question, a SPE and one other primary examiner. The decision of the panel is conveyed to the applicant but without any explanation of the reasons for such decision. Additionally, following the submission of a brief by applicant, a panel of three examiners, again generally including the examiner of the application, a SPE and one other primary examiner, reviews the brief and decides whether the rejection in the application is proper and ready for a decision by the PTAB. From both of these programs, the USPTO has gathered statistics on the outcomes of the affected applications.
Below are the statistics for the Patent Examining Corps from the Pre-Appeal Brief Conferences from FY 2008 to FY 2016.
It can be seen that over the years from FY 2008 the percentage of applications in the program that were either reopened or allowed ranged from 40% (FYs 2008 and 2011), 43% (FYs 2009 and 2010) and then dropped each year to 30% in FY 2016. That seems to demonstrate a consistent improvement in the program over the nine years of the program’s existence. However, the statistic of 30% of the applications’ final rejections being inadequate for review by the PTAB is an indicator that significant work still needs to be done in improving the quality of the final rejections being advanced. This is an area for increased evaluation to identify problems, trends and lessons learned for feedback to the Patent Examining Corps to improve these numbers. The incorrect final rejections force applicants to file RCEs, after-final amendments or arguments, or appeals to the PTAB, all of which cost significant amounts of money and delays resulting in lost patent term.
The PPAC suggests a focus on these applications and efforts to continue to decrease the numbers of applications being reopened or allowed. Of course, if the rejection is improper or incorrect, it is preferable that the case is either reopened or allowed but focusing on reducing the improper final rejections is suggested.
Below are the statistics for the Pre-Appeal Brief Conferences for FY 2014 - FY 2016 by TC.
This data shows that in about one-third of the applications reviewed, the final rejection was found to be deficient. The percentage moving forward to appeal is fairly consistent across the TCs, but the division between allowance and reopening the prosecution differs quite significantly between TCs. Evaluating these differences and the underlying reasons would be a fruitful area to explore to capture training points for product improvement.
Below are the statistics from the Appeal Brief Conferences from FYs 2008-2016.
These statistics demonstrate quite a significant number of applications (between 40% and 32%) in which the final rejection cannot be forwarded to the PTAB but rather must either be reopened or allowed. The numbers do show a noteworthy improvement over the nine years of data; however, even in the best years, over 30% of the applications are either reopened or allowed, which indicates that reducing improper final rejections should be a focus of the quality improvement efforts. These applications were evaluated by three examiners who determined that a significant proportion of the final rejections were deficient in some manner and thus represent a valuable source of important information regarding the problems found in these evaluations. It is suggested that these reviews identify what these problems are so that this information may be categorized and mined for how to provide training to the examiners for quality improvement.
It is understood that the Pre-Appeal Brief Conferences evaluate only gross error capable of being identified in five pages of argument, while the Appeal Brief Conferences are supposed to provide a more in-depth review. The USPTO should make sure that the reviews being done are all using the proper standards for these different reviews in each TC because eliminating the necessity of going to the PTAB is an important objective. Increasing the quality of the final rejections being advanced is a critically valuable goal because each of the two programs cost applicants money and lost patent term and unfortunately, with inconsistent quality among examiners, this negative result of higher cost and lost time falls only on some applicants.
The chart below shows the results for the Patent Examining Corps from the PTAB for the FY 2008 - FY 2016.
The trend in reversals shows an increase over the period of time from FY 2008 to a high FY 2012 and a decrease to 29% in FY 2015. The affirmances dropped from 61% in FY 2008 to 51% in FYs 2011 and 2012 and are now rising again. The PPAC believes that in a high functioning system a certain number of examiner positions should be reversed. There are some cases where the facts are disputable and need the higher decision by the PTAB.
Below are the statistics from Appeal Brief Decisions by TC for the period of FY 2014 - FY 2016.
These statistics do identify some differences between the TCs. The PPAC recommends evaluating these applications to identify whether there are problems in the search, claim interpretation or other aspects of examination which might be identified and conveyed through training to the examiners.
The PPAC suggests that the USPTO continue to focus efforts on evaluating the information coming from the all of these sources, both Pre-Appeal Brief and Appeal Brief Conferences and the PTAB decisions to identify information that can be fed into the quality improvement process.
In addition to the measures in the composite, the USPTO should focus more on data that are currently being gathered that can provide an indication of the quality of the work product. At present, these data can be hidden within different metrics—for example, the accuracy of office actions is part of survey data as well as several quality assurance components and somewhat in the quality index reporting QIR (statistical) measures. The data from Pre-Appeal Brief Conferences and Appeal Brief Conferences give some indication of the quality of the final rejections being issued based on the outcome (allowance, new rejection or continuation to the PTAB) of the application following such a conference. These data should be mined and utilized in the quality improvement efforts but it is suggested that evaluation on a more granular level and root cause analysis should be done.
The PPAC encourages a continuing critical analysis of the quality results with a focus on continued improvement. The quality metrics are valuable tools to assess the state of quality over various time periods but their value also lies in the identification of areas for improvement. The PPAC urges the USPTO to leverage fully the talents and knowledge of the SPEs, who are change agents for a quality environment as well as a conduit to the Patent Examining Corps. The most effective quality feedback and intervention comes from the SPEs and the PPAC encourages greater involvement of the SPEs in quality enhancement. The use of the MRF by SPEs to document the required annual reviews of examiner work product is an important step to more uniformly evaluate and record these vital looks at the quality of the work product. While the PPAC understands that the USPTO has a definition of quality, has been measuring quality for decades and through the performance evaluations has been communicating to the examiners what quality is, the MRF and uniform reviews will improve the data gathered by the USPTO. The PPAC suggests increased and clear communication to the examiners and the public on the definition of quality.
The significant Information Technology (IT) improvements being developed and deployed for the patent examiners should assist in improved search capabilities and hopefully expanded abilities to identify and apply the most pertinent prior art, thus resulting in improved patent quality. The improved IT systems will also permit patent examiners to manipulate the data in the patent applications more easily to facilitate quality analysis of the application. In addition, the harmonization of the classification system to the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC), Global Dossier, the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH), and the continuing initiatives and strides being made by agreements among the world patent offices are excellent programs that should assist patent examiners in providing consistent, high quality work product. The PPAC compliments the USPTO on the international efforts being made to improve global consistency and access for applicants and patent examiners because these initiatives ultimately contribute to the overall quality of the patents issued by the USPTO.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued two reports in June 2016: GAO-16-490 titled “Patent Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve Clarity,” and GAO-16-479 titled “Patent Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor Examiners’ Work.”
In formulating report GAO-16-490, the GAO conducted a survey of patent examiners and interviewed officials from the USPTO and knowledgeable stakeholders. The GAO recommended seven actions to help improve patent quality: (1) develop a consistent definition of patent quality, and clearly articulate this definition in agency documents and other guidance; (2) further develop measurable, quantifiable goals and performance indicators related to patent quality as part of the USPTO’s strategic plan; (3) analyze the time examiners need to perform a thorough patent examination; (4) analyze how current performance incentives affect the extent to which examiners perform thorough examinations of patent applications; (5) establish a process to provide data on the results of the PTAB proceedings to managers and staff in the TCs and analyze PTAB data for trends in patent quality issues to identify whether additional training, guidance, or other actions are needed to address trends; (6) evaluate the effects of compact prosecution and other Office application and examination policies on patent quality and determine if any changes are needed to ensure that the policies are not adversely affecting patent quality; and (7) consider whether to require patent applicants to include claim clarity tools such as a glossary of terms, a check box to signal functional claim language, or claim charts in each patent application.
The report included the USPTO response to each recommendation who identified numerous steps already underway and which address some of the points made by the GAO: for example the Post Grant Outcomes Pilot implemented in the spring of 2016 and the Glossary Pilot completed by the USPTO.
In GAO-16-479 report, the GAO also had seven recommendations for the USPTO: (1) work with the European Patent Office (EPO) to identify a target level of consistency of Cooperative Patent Classification decisions between the USPTO and EPO and develop a plan to monitor consistency to achieve the target; (2) develop a strategy to identify new sources of non-patent literature (NPL) and assess optimal ways of providing access to these sources; (3) develop written guidance on what constitutes a thorough prior art search in each technology field, TC, art area or art unit, as appropriate and establish goals and indicators for improving prior art searches; (4) ensure that sufficient information is collected in reviews to assess the quality of the searches performed, including how often the examiners search U.S. patents, foreign patents, and NPL; (5) use audits and supervisory reviews to monitor the thoroughness of prior art searches and improvements over time; (6) analyze the time examiners need to perform a thorough examination including assessing the time needed to conduct a thorough prior art search; and (7) assess the technical competencies of examiners to determine if they match that necessary for competent examination of that art area identify any gaps, develop strategies to address any gaps and establish strategies to monitor progress towards closing any gaps.
The USPTO concurred with the recommendations in both reports; details of the USPTO responses are included in both reports. The PPAC believes that the quality of the searches is a critical step in achieving high patent quality and encourages the USPTO to continue its efforts in measuring and improving the quality of the search. The PPAC also finds noteworthy the GAO’s emphasis on non-patent literature in improving the quality of search and ultimately the issued patents.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released report Number OIG-14-0990-I in August of 2016, and titled “Analysis of Patent Examiners’ Time and Attendance.” Using a number of electronic tools, which were not designed to monitor examiner work, the OIG identified time claimed by examiners but unsupported by these electronic tools they used in the audit. Based on this evaluation, the OIG made a series of recommendations: revaluate examiner production goals and revise them, to reflect efficiencies in work processes from automation; require all examiners to provide their work schedules; require employees to use their badge to exit the facility; require all teleworkers to remain logged into the USPTO network during work hours; review policies, procedures and practices pertaining to overtime hours to identify and eliminate areas susceptible to abuse; and consider deploying SOHO routers to all teleworkers.
The PPAC believes that the USPTO takes very seriously the requirement that examiners work the full number of hours for which they are paid and has taken actions against some examiners for whom it could be documented that they were not following the policies for time and attendance. Footnote 2 of the OIG report, acknowledges that they did not recommend any actions against examiners be taken based on this report because of possible noncompliance with Federal Rules regarding such actions. Following a NAPA report, the USPTO had implemented training and other changes, the effect of which was actually documented in the OIG data. The USPTO is reviewing the OIG report and seriously considering appropriate actions. Additional information about this report can be found in the Human Capital section of this annual report.
The potential unsupported time alleged by the OIG was about 2% which fell to 1.6% after implementation of steps resulting from the NAPA report. Being able to document 98% or greater of employees’ time seems quite good. While the tools used by the OIG in their evaluation were designed for other purposes, the USPTO does have a robust set of measures that track the output and quality of the work patent examiners perform, including percentage achievement of a production goal, achievement of pendency goals and quality assessment. These measures hold examiners accountable for completing a dictated amount of work within set time periods at a proscribed level of quality, establishing, it is contended, a level of accountability beyond what many workers, in the public or private sector face.
Production goals for examiners are set based on a complexity factor assigned to the art area in which they examine, their GS-grade (higher grade equals more work expected), and the time claimed on their timesheet. Thus, examiners in more complex art are allocated more time for the work, as are more junior examiners and for every hour worked, there is a computer generated report detailing expected and achieved production. This means that for all time claimed by examiners on their time sheet, they were required to complete the amount of work based on their production goal.
Although the examiners rely on electronic means for doing their work, many continue to print out documents for review and analysis or do occasional work on another computer. Thus, the PPAC contends that the lack of a digital footprint is not evidence that an examiner was not working. Additionally, patent examiners frequently work hours that they do not claim on their time sheets, that is, voluntary overtime (VOT), to achieve the necessary level of work and quality but this time seems to have been disregarded by the OIG.
The USPTO is reviewing the OIG report and seriously considering appropriate actions. Additional information about this report can be found in the Human Capital section of this annual report.
The USPTO is evaluating the time allocated to examiners to do a quality examination of patent applications. It is noted that the GAO report found that perhaps examiners need more time to do their work- the exact opposite of the suggestion by the OIG.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO consider the OIG report and continue to evaluate the policies and procedures to ensure that employees understand and are following the time and attendance rules. However, the USPTO should not implement recommendations, such as reduced examination time, that are likely to harm quality.
To provide guidance to applicants and examiners on patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101, the USPTO issued life sciences and computer software examples and continued to provide guidance on relevant court decisions for subject matter eligibility. The examples and memos are helpful to both examiners and practitioners in identifying concrete examples of patent eligible patent claims.
Training provided by the USPTO to examiners includes training on practice and procedure, examination tools, technical training, and legal training. To augment and keep current the patent examiner’s knowledge in their field of examination in a cost-effective manner, the Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP) offered 173 events in various technologies featuring speakers from companies who gave lectures at the USPTO and in some cases video access to materials from universities proving in total 34,846 hours of technical training. Training programs in Patent Law and Evidence was delivered to 600 participants in 12 events for 24,000 hours. Because of the cost, visits to companies is more limited but in the Site Examiner Education (SEE) program, some examiners visited 43 locations to learn about the technology and see first-hand the work being done, an extremely valuable part of education. A variety of refresher and master training events were given to 10,852 participants for 18,318 hours of training. The Patent Training Council delivered a number of training modules including Clarity of the Record, Interview Summary Practice, 101 Responding to Applicant’s Arguments, Reasons for Allowance, 103, and 112(a) for biotech or organic chemistry examiners. In many cases, these were delivered to all examiners and managers but some training was targeted to specific art areas where it was most relevant. Also, managers were trained in technology, HR aspects of their jobs and management skills resulting in 2,274 participants accruing 3,411 hours of training.
The PPAC applauds this on-going training to keep the patent examiners current in all aspects of their jobs.
The PPAC commends the USPTO on the transparency of the training materials and guidelines provided to the examiners on various aspects of procedures and case law. These are readily available on the USPTO website and the USPTO requests and considers comments and suggestions from the public regarding these materials.
A. Supervisory Oversight
A superior method of improving quality lies in supervisory oversight of the work completed by junior examiners as they learn the practice, procedures and the law, followed by guidance by the supervisor on nuances for a more complete and more legally correct product. In addition, regular review of the work of the primary examiners can identify opportunities for supervisory input for any recommended changes. Utilization of the SPEs for quality improvement is crucial because the SPEs generally have good knowledge of the technology and it is far more scalable than a review by OPQA. However, it is critical that the SPEs be accorded a sufficient amount of time to dedicate to the necessary one-on-one training and review of the work of the art unit. It is also important that SPEs understand that training, feedback to the examiners and resolution of problems is their primary and most important function at the USPTO. The PPAC recommends that the USPTO focus on supervisory review and a robust feedback system to channel quality comments and suggestions to the examiners, combined with an identification of any individual or group deficiencies which can then be addressed with additional training and follow up.
B. Complete First Action Search and Comprehensive Office Actions
A thorough pre-first action search, a comprehensive evaluation of all claims and a first action which identifies and develops all appropriate issues presented by the claims is a hallmark of good patent examination quality and is the expectation of all patent applicants. A thorough search should cover the invention as described and claimed, including the inventive concepts toward which the claims appear to be directed (MPEP 904). It is especially important that the USPTO focus efforts on identifying NPL references and continue to expand the sources available to the Patent Examining Corps to locate these references. It is also recommended that the USPTO ensure that adequate, other-time compensated training is provided to examiners on the tools and methods for identifying appropriate NPL references. The office actions should make clear how the references are being applied by identifying the appropriate passages of the references and how the claim is being interpreted to make that rejection. This need not be a treatise but rather a concise explanation to put applicants on notice and allow the public to understand the position being taken by the USPTO. The PPAC recommends a focus on complete searches as set forth in the MPEP; clear and comprehensive office actions which make clear how the claim is being interpreted and the passages from the reference being relied upon; and thorough treatment of arguments and evidence submitted in response to the rejections.
C. Consider Options for Additional Amendment Following Final Rejection
Many applications require more than one opportunity to amend the claims to reach allowable subject matter with a scope satisfactory to both applicant and the examiner. The current compact prosecution model frequently reaches final rejection before the issues are adequately developed and consequently these applications necessitate the filing of one or more RCEs. A system which permits more options than just filing an RCE, such as paying for another action after final rejection, would be desirable in some instances to complete prosecution. The PPAC urges the USPTO continue to review the examination process to consider ways to avoid a patent application from going to “final” status prematurely. The PPAC recommends that the USPTO evaluate and try to reduce the number of final rejections which cite new prior art, particularly following small changes to the claims which should have been recognized as the invention and searched according to the guidance provided for search in the MPEP. It appears that new prior art applied in some final rejections should have been located and applied to the claims as originally presented. Additionally, efforts or initiatives to enter more small changes to the claims, especially those which put the case in condition for allowance, following a final rejection would be welcomed. Changes to the current compact prosecution system which would allow other options, such as an additional amendment after a final rejection, should be considered. Reconsideration of the application with additional amendments and arguments within a few months is more effective and efficient for both applicant and the USPTO.
The PPAC appreciates the efforts of the USPTO over the past few years to develop programs aimed at providing greater consideration and entry of amendments after final. The effectiveness of these programs is variable, but the objective of the programs is applauded. The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to develop, modify and enhance programs which will permit more consideration and entry of amendments after final rejection because it is believed that this will reduce the need for RCEs or appeals to the PTAB.
D. Compact Prosecution
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO evaluate the compact prosecution model currently employed and determine if this achieves the most efficient, high quality results. The percentage of RCEs filed has grown and continues to represent 30% of the applications filed, suggesting that prosecution within the proscribed process of a single application may not be occurring in significant numbers of applications. It is suggested that the USPTO evaluate the compact prosecution model and whether it is an appropriate model with current applications. The USPTO could evaluate RCEs, survey examiners and seek input from the public regarding the model and reasons for filing RCEs.
E. Mine Information from Applications
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO evaluate the cases allowed or reopened following a pre-appeal brief or appeal brief conferences to identify, to the extent possible, why the rejections advanced in the final rejection were deemed inadequate for consideration by the PTAB. Was the search inadequate, were the claims interpreted too broadly or too narrowly, were arguments or evidence submitted by applicant overlooked of dismissed? Similarly, an analysis of the patents found invalid through the IPR process should be undertaken. In all of these cases, USPTO personnel have identified that a problem with each case existed and a more in-depth identification of weakness in searching, analysis or decision making would assist in quality improvement efforts.
F. Consistency of Positions and Quality of Actions
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO focus on the consistency of the positions taken by examiners and the quality of the office actions communicated to applicants. Unfortunately, the perception of some practitioners is that the outcome of an examination of a patent application depends very heavily on which examiner was assigned the application. It is believed that this is the case for rejections under 35 U.S.C. § 101, but also for §§ 102, 103, and 112. The PPAC commends the USPTO for including a review of the consistency of approaches to rejections under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as one of the case studies. It is hoped that this evaluations can be translated into training and efforts to more uniformly apply the statute and controlling case law.
The application of all statutes and the quality of the search and communications by examiners are not uniform or at the level expected by the public. It is understood that there will be some differences but poor searches and quality of examination cost some applicants significant amounts of money and lost time. For example, in some technologies, some examiners overuse § 112(a) rejections while in other areas this statute is underused.
Areas of suggested focus include: complete search, including NPL; the appropriate use of § 112(a) to get proper scope of claims; the complete evaluation of arguments with understanding of legal arguments that overcome rejections and a reconsideration of the new record with an open mind; the appropriate consideration of all evidence, including declarations; and a more consistent, predictable outcome of applications regardless of the assigned examiner. Whether or not an applicant receives a patent and how long and at what cost the process takes should not be dependent on which examiner does the examination. The USPTO should focus on consistency, supervisory oversight to monitor the quality, and implementation of programs for intervention and correction of errors without the need for costly appeals to the PTAB.
G. Quality, Not Just Quantity, as the Objective
The PPAC recommends an emphasis on patent quality as a defining principle for the culture of the USPTO. One important aspect for patent quality is a repeated statement by management that quality is the primary objective, reinforced by infusing the environment and culture of the USPTO with a quality, and not just quantity, focus. This is especially important to an office with many examiners working remotely from the main campus and thus not in face-to-face contact on a daily basis. Quality involves utilization of all of the required work hours focused on a quality work product, not just a completed one. While quality awards have been discussed and are understandably challenging to implement, the USPTO should explore ways to recognize and reward outstanding quality work, using praise and public recognition to signal accomplishments, and models of quality and work ethics for the more junior examiners to follow.
The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) provides the personnel and technology for the USPTO administration, Patent Examining Corps, and end users to effectively research, file, and prosecute patent applications, and administer the patent operations within the USPTO. The USPTO database of all pending published applications and issued patents, prior art and technical journals is utilized 24 hours per day by both U.S. patrons and the global community. The system has in storage over 300 Petabytes (300 million Gigabytes) of information that is available to users, and also the 8,000 examiners that at any one time may be online. Under the direction of the OCIO, the IT staff works to provide tools to improve patent quality, reduce pendency and backlog, and build and maintain a 21st century workplace. This report outlines the efforts underway at modernizing the USPTO’s IT capabilities, and describes the Patents End To End (PE2E) portfolio of IT projects that will help the USPTO continue to be the premier IP agency in the world.
The first area to be discussed is that of modernization. In FY 2016, the USPTO continued to fund IT initiatives at a higher level than they had in previous years. The PPAC endorsed, and continues to endorse, these higher levels of IT spending because replacement of antiquated technology has already been delayed too long, jeopardizing mission-critical functions such as efficient examination, service delivery to patent applicants and other stakeholders, and improving patent quality via functions such as examiner search and improved workflow. At present there is no question that these initiatives must move forward; therefore, the PPAC’s focus is in helping the USPTO to prioritize as well as to determine the specific funding levels necessary given that the volume of new patent applications is lower than projected.
Related to the antiquated technology is the fact that the IT system is extremely vulnerable in terms of its usage of obsolete hardware and the lack of availability of spare parts. As will be outlined in greater detail in this report, in December 2015 the IT system was severely crippled because of an event that destroyed numerous components of the computer system. While contractors to the USPTO had some spare parts available, as required by the USPTO contract, the magnitude of the damage was such that spare parts had to be brought in from around the world. Moreover, these spare parts at times came from computer repair organizations and not necessarily the manufacturers of the hardware. The USPTO is the world’s premier intellectual property organization. It is not acceptable to the PPAC that spare parts have to be retrieved from foreign countries and from other continents. Issues of weather, diplomatic relations, foreign customs, and labor unrest among transport workers make the IT unacceptably vulnerable to such untoward events.
During the second quarter of FY 2015, the USPTO made available to the entire Patent Examining Corps a new system called DAV, the first of a planned series of rollouts of the new PE2E functionality. This new software, which replaces the eDAN tool long in use by examiners, provides integrated case management, improved ability to prioritize tasks, and numerous features to automate tasks examiners previously carried out by hand, such as drawing claim trees and searching for text within application files. In addition, like all of the other tools in the PE2E portfolio, DAV builds upon an advanced, open source, standards-based architecture so that functions that were previously performed separately within each separate software tool, such as searching and claim tracking, can be consistently streamlined across tools and applications. Once DAV was made available, training progressed by art unit within the Patent Examining Corps with usage and training of DAV being voluntary. The number of trained users has steadily increased within the Patent Examining Corps. There has been a hard deadline for transition set for no later than December 31, 2016.
The PPAC commends the OCIO and the entire USPTO organization for what is almost universal acceptance and usage of the DAV. The DAV deployment sets the stage for the rollout of the other key components of PE2E, such as a new advanced examiner search tool and authoring tool for official correspondence (e.g., office actions), as well as the eventual retirement of legacy systems whose outdated custom design dates back to the 1980s. Although the PPAC is delighted with the progress so far, the PPAC recognizes the cost and risks associated with “changing the wheels while the car is moving forward” - maintaining two sets of systems as newer, modern systems replace the old ones. This is a set of projects which, if delayed or only partially completed, would leave the USPTO in a state where it is paying a higher ongoing cost without any real return. The USPTO will need to manage the budget carefully to guard against these risks.
The USPTO has made progress in the implementation of several key projects to support international cooperation and work sharing. The USPTO’s commitment to Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC), the conversion from a U.S. system for classifying patents by subject area to an international standard, required extensive technology support, and the OCIO stepped up to help, leveraging a system used in trademarks to help examiners automate the assignment of applications using CPC codes. The Hague Agreement was finally ratified by the United States in February, 2015, leading to the live use of IT systems to support the common filing of design patents in Hague Agreement offices. The USPTO also delivered new functionality to give foreign patent offices access to applications and patent file wrappers, and developed a web-based system to allow public access in the U.S. to foreign patents.
While new IT development efforts such as these have been the focus of attention, the PPAC notes that the OCIO’s office must continue to build and maintain a secure, stable infrastructure, a dynamic and compliant website, an effective back-office environment, and numerous other less glamorous technical functions that tend to be discussed only when something goes amiss.
Separate and apart from the malfunctions suffered, the PPAC reiterates that information security and detection of unknown malware and viruses is critical to the protection of the highly proprietary information the USPTO receives about innovations and inventions developed in the U.S. Given the high visibility of data breaches in other organizations and the sensitive nature of documents submitted to the USPTO, constant vigilance and a adequate amount of ongoing IT investment is a must in all infrastructure areas.
In alignment with the USPTO’s overall strategic goals of improving patent quality and reducing pendency, the OCIO is responsible for deploying and maintaining modern IT systems and infrastructure that improve quality and efficiency, for example, by helping examiners to work productively and effectively and by supporting communication and coordination with the user community and international stakeholders. Within the current examination environment, such systems can advance patent quality initiatives, for example, by allowing examiners to avoid mundane and repetitive tasks such as mapping claims and retyping text and devote their time and attention to those tied to quality, such as determining claim validity and finding and applying prior art. Global and community work-sharing, for example, is also important for quality because it reduces duplication of effort, thereby potentially improving the effectiveness of examination, and can also help examiners to find art that they might not find otherwise. Technology can help also to ensure that applications are assigned to the examiners who are best able to examine them. These are just a few of the ways that technology and quality tie together. Productivity and quality are also related, as implied above, because the better the examination time is spent, the more likely that examiner will produce quality results.
There is one caveat that must be emphasized when discussing both IT and quality. There is a necessary tension between high quality applications that are allowed, and decreasing the time necessary allocated for the examination. In some quarters, it has been suggested that these new worktools can help decrease pendency. While at first blush this may seem to be an appealing concept, it is not always the case.
Quality patents are those patents which comply with all statutory requirements and are of the proper scope. The difficulty in examining an application is that there is now a plethora of prior art, both patents and NPL, available to the examiner. The ability for the examiner to search KIPO, EPO and JPO databases, with increasingly sophisticated machine translation, was unheard of 10 years ago. The reality is that IT provides the examiner with a larger database than was ever available – this database and increasing access to various commercial databases of NPL are exactly one of the reasons that patent quality will improve. However automation and higher patent quality will not necessarily result in decreased pendency. The reality is that there is more prior art identified which must be considered. IT can make this art more readily available to the examiner. But in the end, it is the examiner who will still have to properly develop a search strategy, review a larger dataset of results, evaluate the claims and determine how and if to apply the discovered prior art to the claims of the application. No amount of automation or software efficiencies can be used to replace the sound technical judgment and acuity of the members of the Patent Examining Corps.
As the PPAC has reported in previous years, PE2E is the mainstay of the USPTO’s IT modernization initiatives. PE2E, as its name indicates, is a set of IT systems aimed at streamlining the processing of patent documents and actions utilizing a data architecture based on open, text-based industry standards such as the XML (Extensible Markup Language), moving away from proprietary, image-based approaches that are behind some of the USPTO’s legacy data-handling systems. In addition to offering opportunities for enhancements to patent quality (such as those noted above), the PE2E portfolio comprises part of the USPTO’s need to upgrade an aging IT infrastructure, a challenge faced by all large-scale organizations.
The table below shows a few of the important projects within the PE2E portfolio with their achieved or scheduled release dates:
In its strategic plans and budget requests throughout recent years, the USPTO has noted the need to modernize its aging IT infrastructure and systems, and pointed out the potential costs to stakeholders of having out-of-date systems (due to potential inefficiencies and downtime) along with the opportunities for improvements (due to collaboration and improved workflow and examination practices). As noted above, the OCIO has launched a number of mission-critical initiatives to improve IT infrastructure, processes, and systems. In its previous reports, the PPAC has cautioned that the replacement of antiquated IT systems would take at least several years, and that there would be a spike in IT expenditures during those years because the development of new systems would continue at the same time that both old and new systems were being maintained, a complex and expensive process. That spike occurred in FY 2015 and continued during FY 2016.
The Patent Application Location and Monitoring system (PALM) is one example of a USPTO mission-critical system that was designed in the 1980s for mainframe computers, and is slated for retirement in the next few years. PALM is the backbone database and transaction processing system that records and tracks actions related to patent applications throughout the USPTO. The examiner search systems EAST (Examiner Automated Search Tool) and WEST (Web-based Examiner Search Tool), upon which examiners rely most heavily for patent searching, were similarly built upon a proprietary framework from the 1980s developed by a company then known as BRS Search. The USPTO’s patent quality outreach has underscored what we already knew, that effective prior art search is a crucial part of examination. The importance of an effective search and providing the tools to enable it were underscored in the recent GAO reports on patent quality. There is no way to improve search substantively using an antiquated platform. In 2014, the PPAC expressed concern that a growing Patent Examining Corps is being tasked to undertake an increasing number of prior art searches at a time when the supporting systems are basically unchanged from where they were when the USPTO recommended their upgrade years ago. This year, the USPTO has moved the ball forward toward replacing EAST and WEST with a new set of examiner search tools slated for testing in FY 2016 and rollout early in FY 2017.
As earlier referenced, the OCIO saw a rather unexpected series of occurrences at the end of December 2015. The IT hardware had an untoward event that occurred in December of 2015. An electrical fault on the power feeder system disrupted power to the USPTO’s Alexandria Headquarters. Despite a robust power system design and redundancy of backup generators, the computer system was damaged and offline for several days. This vulnerability is of a type that cannot be easily or practically minimized or engineered around. Moreover, the damaged power feed system is in a building leased by the GAO, not the USPTO. This power event does emphasize the need to upgrade the computing system; the USPTO experienced electrical damage that taxed the inventory of spare parts held both internally and also by contractors to the USPTO. It was necessary to bring in spare parts from around the world, which obviously can pose a threat when the diplomatic waters are not calm or inclement weather is occurring. The IT department implemented its backup plan, and the plan was executed and worked as intended.
The PPAC commends the OCIO and its leadership for both foresight in planning and also implementation of the plan. In this very case, we saw exactly how OCIO management had planned for the worst of circumstances, and when those circumstances occurred, the group worked their plan. At the same time, the necessity to ‘import’ or borrow spare parts from around the world places the USPTO in a position it should not be in. This incident alone should alert the Administration and Congress of the continued necessity of upgrading and replacing mainframe hardware that is presently obsolete and makes the USPTO vulnerable. In addition to power or other natural disruptions, the PPAC reiterates its urging that the USPTO is provided the requisite budget to put in place the most robust cybersecurity infrastructure that can effectively thwart unknown malware and virus attacks, theft, and disruption to the U.S. patent system. Unlike most upgrades, cybersecurity-related upgrades must be frequent and anticipatory in order to be effective, and should be factored into the budget.
As discussed earlier, the Department of Commerce has undertaken a Shared Services initiative aimed at reducing redundancy across organizations while potentially improving the delivery of support functions across the Department. This initiative could help, for example, in streamlining and reducing the cost of certain commodity IT functions such as electronic mail, website maintenance, helpdesk operations, and human resources IT support.
While the PPAC appreciates the Department’s efforts to leverage economies of scale in order to focus user fee revenues more strategically, the PPAC is concerned with both timing and execution challenges in implementing shared services at the USPTO. Given the importance of the ongoing initiatives discussed here, the PPAC particularly notes that the USPTO must maintain the flexibility in IT procurement that it currently has along with maintaining the high levels of service and security that the USPTO has worked so hard to establish.
As the Department begins to establish these shared services, the PPAC urges the USPTO to ensure that examiners and the stakeholders will maintain the same or better level of service and security. If participation in particular shared services offerings does benefit the USPTO without compromise to service quality and security, the USPTO will also need to ensure that the service does not impose additional unreasonable costs that could interfere with its IT modernization efforts.
Since our last report, the PPAC has noted that substantial progress has been made in the following areas.
a. Cooperative Patent Classification
Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) is a partnership between the USPTO and EPO, in which both offices manage and maintain the classification system. Because CPC differs from the classification system previously used at the USPTO, additional technical resources have been needed to search across CPC patent classes, as well as to assign CPC codes to patents. Work on CPC in FY 2016 included a new interactive assignment tool to help examiners transfer applications based on CPC codes.
b. Global Dossier
Global Dossier is a set of projects to facilitate global work sharing by transmitting patent data from the USPTO to its overseas partners, as well as provide access to patent data from other IP5 patent offices (representing, outside of the United States, China, Korea, Europe, and Japan). One Portal Dossier is a part of the Examiner Tools & Infrastructure component of the PE2E portfolio, through which examiners will be able to view non-USPTO patent dossiers using the same viewers (i.e., DAV) that help to process U.S. applications. In FY 2015, the USPTO began allowing foreign access to U.S. patents and applications, and moved toward the imminent release of a system for U.S. public access to foreign patents and applications through Global Dossier in November 2015. It is particularly noted that machine translation software for language translation from other languages into English has improved greatly over the last several years, allowing the Patent Examining Corps the ability to better reference and cite foreign prior art when performing a search.
The PPAC applauds the USPTO for the successful launch of the DAV viewer, the first of a series of tools in the PE2E portfolio, and for increasing funding for IT this year. The PPAC continues to believe that IT development and modernization efforts by the OCIO have produced valuable results in support of the USPTO’s mission, and are expected to continue. The PPAC believes that PE2E supports the USPTO’s current emphasis on improving patent quality. The PPAC recommends emphasizing the following objectives:
A. Continue to Modernize IT Systems and Replace Legacy IT Systems
The USPTO must continue to move forward aggressively with its efforts to deploy new systems, including examiner search, official correspondence, content management, and dissemination. The USPTO has concrete plans to replace legacy systems such as eDAN, OACS, PALM, EAST and WEST. For at least the next year, this means that the USPTO will continue to bear the high cost of maintaining a number of legacy systems at the same time that it continues to support projects that will ultimately replace these systems. Additionally, the USPTO must hire new technical staff that is skilled in current technologies while also paying for the specialized skills required to maintain systems that are out-of-date. While this modernization comes at a cost, slowing the process could increase the burden by extending the period through which funding redundant systems is required. Also, slowing the process would compromise the ability to take advantage of new features that could enhance patent quality and help reduce pendency. Therefore, the PPAC recommends that the USPTO try to protect the funding for these critical projects.
It also goes without saying that the December 2015 power system failure underscored the vulnerability of a system that is mainframe based and decades old.
B. Maintain Increased Funding
The decline in new patent applications during FY 2015, which reduced fee revenues last year and the resulting decrease in the USPTO’s operating reserves highlights the variability in future fee projections and therefore the risk that the combination of fee collections and reserve funds will be inadequate to support the necessary functions of the organization. In FY 2016, the projected number of applications is slightly over 600,000, which represents an approximate 3% increase over FY 2015. A large portion of the funding for the critical IT initiatives described here is viewed as discretionary because it can be adjusted dynamically, and the funds allocated to IT make up a large portion of the USPTO’s discretionary budget. The way to protect the high priority discretionary initiatives is to maintain enough of an operating reserve to ensure they can be funded, make sure that only the projects that are absolutely necessary are being undertaken, and only the non-discretionary commitments (such as hiring) that are absolutely necessary, are undertaken. The PPAC cannot advise the USPTO that everything is critical and at the same time advise the USPTO to protect against budget risk. The PPAC believes that some things are more critical than others, particularly when faced with the reality that certain short-term cuts would result in no long-term savings. This is the case with IT modernization. Use of the operating reserve to help fund these one-time larger capital expenditures seems to make sense, so long as other key office priorities and operations are not also impacted. In order to insure that funding will be available until the transition is complete, the USPTO will need to be extremely careful about committing funds in other areas.
C. Continue Support for the Global IP Community
Technology support for globalization, such as Global Dossier and the Hague Agreement, continued to be emphasized in FY 2015. These projects must continue, as they align with the USPTO’s vision of leading the world in IP protection and policy and these projects of international harmonization and work sharing advance patent quality. At the same time, the PPAC recognizes that utilization of some of the new capabilities may be lagging and strongly encourages the USPTO to do further user community outreach and education on how best to use these systems to increase usage of these valuable tools.
D. Upgrade and Expand Links with Stakeholders
The USPTO should examine all customer-facing systems as part of ongoing quality initiatives and IT work should be slated to continue to improve these systems, again subject to the constraint of budget realism.
E. IT Staffing
As is readily apparent, the OCIO has a number of projects underway. Both the abundance and necessity of these projects requires that the OCIO be fully staffed, with staff efforts being augmented by numerous contractors or employees of contracting firms. The IT contracting system represents an area that both the OCIO and the PPAC would like to see improved. Outside contract personnel have no particular loyalty or allegiance to the USPTO, and are often available for hire to the highest bidder, sometimes resulting in an abundance of programmer turnover. This results in severe inefficiencies, as new contractor personnel must be brought up to speed on the current project(s). The PPAC encourages the USPTO and its OCIO to continue to bring more IT personnel on board as permanent employees, as opposed to the status quo.
The PPAC commends the USPTO for its continued scrutiny of the IT infrastructure, particularly with respect to cybersecurity. The USPTO is the keeper of some of the most valuable information of our nation – such as technological and biomedical innovations. Theft of this coveted information could severely weaken the U.S. economy and security. With this reality in mind, the PPAC recommends ongoing reviews for the purpose of ensuring vigilant implementation, updates, monitoring, testing, analysis, and continued safeguards in order to protect the USPTO’s IT infrastructure against known and unknown attacks.
In contrast to most of the Federal Government, the USPTO is a user-funded agency that currently enjoys temporary authority to set and adjust fees following the procedures established in the AIA. In FY 2016, expenditures and collections were reasonably close to what had been forecasted. In late FY 2015 and early 2016, to better control expenditures, the agency undertook a comprehensive review of planned expenditures to appropriately prioritize funding across functions and initiatives. Also, the USPTO completed the biennial fee review process, resulting with a proposal to the PPAC for targeted fee increases. As required by the AIA, the PPAC collected comments and held an open hearing. The USPTO issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in October 2016 with new fees anticipated to go into effect in late FY 2017.
Sound financial management continues to be essential to assuring patent quality and reasonable pendency as well as providing the necessary IT infrastructure. During FY 2016, the USPTO continued its progress in improving pendency, initiated significant quality improvement initiatives, all while managing expenditures and collections at close to their forecasted levels.
The USPTO’s budget process can be understood as a kind of combination of private business practices and those followed by U.S. federal government agencies. On the one hand, the USPTO entirely relies on user fees and seeks to align spending with collections while maintaining an operating reserve to manage variability. On the other hand, the USPTO can only spend the money it collects if that money is appropriated by Congress as part of the overall budgeting cycle.
The AIA granted the USPTO temporary fee setting authority. The agency may set and adjust fees to recover aggregate cost of patent operations following a statutorily mandated consultation with the public in conjunction with the PPAC and the regulatory process. The USPTO is currently undergoing the rulemaking process to adjust patent fees. However, the fee setting authority is currently slated to sunset in September 2018. Furthermore, the USPTO is not free to spend collected funds without specific authorization from Congress. If the USPTO collects more funds than is appropriated by Congress, the excess is deposited in a Patent and Trademark Fee Reserve Fund (PTFRF) established by the AIA. Using the fees from the PTFRF requires a reprogramming notification to Congress to transfer funds to the Salary and Expenses Fund.
The USPTO’s Patent Operating Reserve (as well as the Trademark Operating Reserve) is a critical aspect of assuring the consistent funding of long-term priorities in the face of the inevitable variability of funding. Unspent, but previously appropriated funds, accumulate in the Patent Operating Reserve (also referred to as carryover) remaining in the USPTO’s appropriation account maintained at the U.S. Department of Treasury. If fee collections dip, the Patent Operating Reserve provides the consistency in funding that long-term initiatives such as quality improvement and IT infrastructure upgrades require. If there is a lapse in the Congressional authorization to spend collected funds, as during the Federal Government shutdown in the fall of 2013, the Patent Operating Reserve funds allow USPTO’s operations to continue. Setting an appropriately prudent floor to the Patent Operating Reserve is therefore a key budgetary decision.
As of this writing, multiple fiscal years are in focus for the purposes of financial assessment and planning. For FY 2016, the USPTO is reconciling its accounts and closing its financial books. Simultaneously, the statutory process of authorizing the USPTO spending for FY 2017 is underway as part of the overall federal budgeting process, which started with the publication of the President’s Budget in early February and is expected to culminate in early FY 2017 with an enacted appropriation bill. As was expected, a Continuing Resolution was passed in September, which authorizes the USPTO to spend fee collections after the beginning of the fiscal year for a specified period of time absent a full year appropriation. However, as with most years, the Continuing Resolution authorized spending at the previous year’s level. While Congress is reacting to the FY 2017 President’s Budget, the USPTO is formulating its input for the FY 2018 President’s Budget. For FY 2018, because of the upcoming Presidential election, the USPTO has not yet provided formal input to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). However, the USPTO has nonetheless formulated its budgetary requirements for FY 2018 and communicated them to the PPAC and Department of Commerce.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 was signed by the President on December 18, 2015 and provided the USPTO with $3.27 billion of funding, for both patents and trademarks, for FY 2016 as requested by the USPTO. (Prior to December 18, 2015, FY 2016 funding had been authorized by a Continuing Resolution.) The FY 2016 appropriation did not place any new restrictions on the USPTO, and the Act provided that funds collected in excess of the appropriation would be deposited in the PTFRF. The USPTO did not deposit funds in the PTFRF at the end of FY 2015, and therefore there was no need to send a reprogramming notification to Congress at the beginning of FY 2016 as had been done in the previous fiscal year. Further, the USPTO did not have a need to deposit funds into the PTFRF at the end of FY 2016.
As of December 31, 2015, the USPTO forecasted, for FY 2016, patent fee collections of $2.79 billion and patent expenditures of $2.89 billion which would have resulted in a year-end Patent Operating Reserve of $318.6 million.
Fee collections ended the year relatively consistent with the forecast. As of September 30, 2016 patent fee collections were $2.78 billion, 0.06% below the level planned. This represents a 1.86% increase from FY 2015, although still below the record collections of FY 2014. Underlying the FY 2016 growth in collections is a 5.11% increase in total annual UPR (utility, plant, and reissue) patent application filings. But a large share of this growth is in RCE filings which grew by 13.57% as discussed in more detail elsewhere in this Report. The remaining, “serialized,” filings only grew by 1.65%. The spike in RCEs is focused on the art units most affected by the Alice and Mayo decisions where uncertainty in the law leads to prolonged prosecution.
The above chart shows quarterly patent collections and spending from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. On the patent spending side, as of the end of the fiscal year, the USPTO had spent $2.87 billion, using patent fees and other income, very close to projections. The Patent Operating Reserve dipped from $402.6 million to $354.2 million over the course of FY 2016.
Important trends become apparent by reviewing revenues and spending over a 5-year period as noted in the above chart. While FY 2012 through FY 2014 show continued rapid growth in collections, collections declined in FY 2015. FY 2016 fee collections increased by 1.86% over FY 2015, but it is large part due to both the substantial jump in RCE filings and the increase in maintenance fees collected. Furthermore, fee collections for FY 2016 were still less than in FY 2014.
On the spending side, growth is flattening but it is of concern that both FY 2015 and FY 2016 show spending requirements as greater than fee collections, which supports the need for adjusted fees. In FY 2015, the shortfall was addressed by drawing from the Patent Operating Reserve and again in FY 2016, the Patent Operating Reserve is being tapped. Although the FY 2016 withdrawals from the Patent Operating Reserve were lower than what was planned in the FY 2016 budget, over a two-year period, over $150 million will have been drawn from the Patent Operating Reserve.
The USPTO management is well aware of these trends shown above, and had projected that without reductions in planned spending, the Patent Operating Reserve balances would become dangerously low by the end of FY 2017. Recognizing that spending at planned levels was unsustainable, the USPTO determined it would be financially prudent to prioritize agency spending across multiple years and establish a minimum Patent Operating Reserve level of $300 million for patents in FY 2016 and FY 2017 to mitigate the risks of uncertain fee levels, with the expectation that the Patent Operating Reserve would eventually grow to the optimal level of three months’ worth of budgetary requirements. The USPTO also established an Operating Reserve Policy, which requires the agency to reassess its financial risks on an annual basis and establish an appropriate operating reserve minimum for a two-year planning horizon that ensures core operations are shielded from potential disruptions.
In the first quarter of FY 2016, the agency undertook a holistic and comprehensive review of USPTO spending, bringing together leaders from across the Agency to help identify and prioritize spending, while at the same time ensuring the USPTO has the healthy foundation it needs to effectively carry out the agency’s mission. In implementing this decision, the USPTO placed high priority on financing its fixed operating costs – such as paying for on-board staff, production, and operating requirements – and strategically focusing its investments in improvement initiatives. This included initiatives that required continuous long-term, stable funding during FY 2016 and FY 2017; e.g., patent quality and pendency, international work sharing, PTAB operations and trial activities, and IT related to these improvements. The USPTO also prioritized funding needed to complete IT investments currently bearing the high cost of maintaining legacy systems. Similar principles guided the USPTO as it reviewed and revised FY 2017 spending requests and FY 2018 budget proposals during the summer of 2016. The PPAC commends the USPTO for proactively managing its budget and prioritizing key needs.
The USPTO is currently engaged in the fee setting process following a fee review that began in FY 2015. The fee review process began with an internal review of the USPTO’s long-term needs for revenue to support a world-class examination capability and successful execution of critical long-term initiatives. Having decided that revised fees were justified, Director Lee communicated a new patent fee adjustment proposal to the PPAC on October 27, 2015. The PPAC’s statutory role in the fee setting process is to solicit public input, hold a public hearing, and issue a report reflective of public input and its own views. Accordingly, after a public comment period, the PPAC held a public hearing on November 19, 2015 and issued its report on February 29, 2016. On October 3, 2016, the USPTO issued an NPRM inviting public comment on a fee adjustment proposal similar to what was proposed in October 2015, but including some key changes to address issues raised in the PPAC report. After receiving public comment on the NPRM, the USPTO will issue a rule to put new fees into effect. It is expected that the revised fee structure will go into effect in August 2017.
The USPTO fee proposal of October 2015 included increases to many patent fees including filing fees, search fees, examination fees, post-allowance fees, patent trial and appeal fees, but not maintenance fees. The specific decisions as to which fees to raise, and by how much, were driven by internal analysis of the cost of providing service as well as a notion that when set appropriately, higher fees could beneficially influence applicant behavior. The public input mainly focused on whether individual fee increases made sense rather than the appropriateness of increasing the total amount of collections that the USPTO receives from the user community.
In its report, the PPAC was supportive of the USPTO’s need for higher fee income to fund operations, complete long-overdue modernization of the IT infrastructure, and continue quality initiatives. The USPTO must have adequate resources to attract and retain a skilled workforce and continue the costly upgrades of its IT infrastructure. The USPTO also requires adequate income to fund both its current operations and a sufficiently large operating reserve to protect against short term fluctuations in revenue. This perspective is consistent with the broad support in the stakeholder community for a well-funded USPTO.
Reflecting both public input and its own conclusions, the PPAC questioned some of the specific choices of fees to increase and by how much. For example, the PPAC was concerned that the increases to RCE fees were excessive and reflected an exaggerated view of the degree to which the need to file an RCE is driven by applicant behavior. The PPAC also questioned a new model for late Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) submissions that would no longer require certification that a reference was newly discovered but instead would impose high fees for prior art disclosed after a first action on the merits. On the one hand, the proposed higher IDS fees seemed unfair to applicants who are being as timely as feasible in bringing relevant art to the attention of the USPTO. On the other hand, some applicants may willingly incur the fee for late submission in the hope that relevant art will be subject to a more cursory review after a first action on the merits.
Although suggesting some areas for further thought, stakeholders and the PPAC were generally supportive of the increases to the fees for post-grant proceedings. Regardless of the USPTO fees, effective advocacy in an IPR, PGR, or CBM review is expensive. It is very important for the PTAB to have sufficient resources for a timely, high quality process of review and adjudication.
The recent NPRM reflects careful consideration of the input that was received from the PPAC and the public. The original proposal to PPAC includes 25% and 18% increases for the fees collected for first and second RCE requests respectively. The NPRM greatly reduces the magnitude of these increases to 12% and 8% respectively and eliminates the USPTO’s initial proposal to remove the certification requirement for late submission of prior art. Instead, the NPRM proposes an increase of 33% or $60 for the submission of an IDS after a first action on the merits and before a notice of allowance. Although the NPRM did not address every issue raised by the PPAC, it reflects careful consideration of the input received from the PPAC and other stakeholders. The PPAC applauds the care taken in operating an open and transparent process for considering patent fee changes. The USPTO is uniquely situated to accurately project its own financial needs and consider stakeholder interests in setting appropriate patent fee levels. The PPAC looks forward to implementation of a new fee structure as planned for in August 2017 that will serve as a solid financial basis for the USPTO’s role in the country’s intellectual property strategy.
A. Extend Fee Setting Authority
The fee setting authority provided by the AIA is currently scheduled to sunset in September 2018. Along with all significant stakeholders, the PPAC believes that it should be made permanent. The USPTO is in the best position to assess its need for revenue and the impact of fee adjustments on the patent system. In the current fee setting process, the USPTO has demonstrated its openness to receiving and considering input from stakeholders and the PPAC. Aside from the fee setting process, the USPTO has acted as a model agency in accepting external input provided by the recent GAO and Inspector General reports and committing itself to proactively addressing the issues that were raised. The extensive budgetary review that was undertaken in FY 2015/2016 shows that the USPTO is a careful steward of the funds that it collects.
The PPAC believes that the USPTO has been responsible in proposing increased fee levels to support improvements in quality, pendency, and IT infrastructure. Further evidence that the USPTO does not exaggerate its needs when proposing fees is the reduction in trademark fees in FY 2014.
B. Continue Stable Appropriations
Successful execution of long-term initiatives requires stable funding. Short terms reductions in funding of IT and quality initiatives can only lead to higher spending to achieve the desired outcomes in the long run. The issues raised in the GAO report concerning patent quality and the infrastructure needed to support higher quality examination can only be addressed with adequate resources. The PPAC further supports continued stable appropriations to authorize the USPTO to spend its collected funds and recommends that Congress authorize the USPTO to spend at the level requested by the President’s Budget for FY 2017. The PPAC encourages the next Administration to respond favorably to the USPTO’s requests for FY 2018 spending. Because it is funded by user fees, the USPTO should be insulated from any interruptions in funding as would be caused by sequestration. Ultimately, the PPAC supports removing the USPTO from the federal appropriation process entirely and granting it more complete autonomy in both collecting and using fees.
C. Move Forward with Targeted Fee Increases to Fund Key Priorities
The USPTO should move forward with its fee setting process to assure that it has the revenue needed to fund operations and critical long-term initiatives. Although the PPAC and other stakeholders critiqued individual fee adjustments that were initially proposed in October 2015, the USPTO should nonetheless be confident in moving forward with a package that raises fees in the aggregate. The recent NPRM addresses some key concerns with the initial proposal and the PPAC looks forward to a final rulemaking that facilitates collection of adequate revenue in the coming years.
D. Plan Long-Term Expenditures Cautiously
Even with a planned fee increase, given the inherent uncertainty of the USPTO’s long-term income, it is critical that the USPTO continue to be cautious in making financial commitments. Given the continued pressures on the patent system including uncertainties in § 101 jurisprudence and concerns about patent litigation, it would be imprudent to assume that historical filing growth will return. One would hope that the growth in RCE filings in FY 2016 will not persist but a realistic view is that the slow to flat growth in serialized filings may turn out to be a long-term trend.
The USPTO should continue to fund the most impactful long-term initiatives to improve quality and modernize its IT infrastructure. Particular attention should be paid to initiatives that result in making commitments to long-term non-discretionary funding such as adding head count. The USPTO should also continue initiatives that reduce costs now such as employee telework. Being prudent now can help insulate important but discretionary initiatives in the event of income volatility.
The PPAC continues to be wary of the impact of potential future USPTO participation within a shared services model for functions such as HR and IT within the Department of Commerce. From a financial perspective, the shared services model raises the prospect of USPTO user fees effectively subsidizing other agencies. The stakeholder community is concerned that implementing the shared services model will negatively impact the effectiveness of USPTO functions while diverting user fees to other government functions.
The AIA established the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB or Board) on September 16, 2012. The Board's responsibilities include: reviewing adverse decisions from examiners upon applications for patents pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 134(a); reviewing reexamination appeals pursuant to § 134(b); conducting legacy interference proceedings pursuant to pre-AIA § 135; conducting derivation proceedings pursuant to § 135; and conducting covered business method (CBM) patent reviews, IPRs, and post-grant reviews (PGRs) pursuant to 18 of the AIA and chapters 31 and 32 of Title 35, United States Code.
As of the end of FY 2016, the Board includes 272 judges, with judges located at each of the regional offices. More specifically, the Dallas office has 13 judges, the Silicon Valley office has 22 judges, the Denver office has 15 judges, and the Detroit office has 10 judges. The placement of these regional offices around the country has expanded the ability of the Board to employ qualified individuals to meet the workload faced by the PTAB.
The backlog of ex parte appeals pending at the Board stands at 15,448 appeals as of September 30, 2016. The backlog averaged about 18,784 appeals for the year. The backlog trend has exhibited a significant downward trajectory for the year, with the peak reaching 21,543 appeals in October 2015 and decreased to a backlog of 15,448 appeals at the end of FY 2016.
The Board has affirmed or affirmed-in-part 70%, reversed 29%, and remanded or dismissed about 1% of the examiner's decisions. These statistics are consistent with the affirmance, reversal, and remand/dismissal rates of previous years.
The Board continued to consider different pilot programs to decrease the ex parte backlog and to provide expedited review to certain stakeholders. An “Expedited Patent Appeal Pilot” program initiated on June 19, 2015, for example, provided special status to an appeal when another pending appeal from the appellant was withdrawn. This program expired on June 20, 2016, as it was not significantly used by stakeholders because many did not want to abandon one appeal in favor of another appeal. Separately, a “Small Entity Pilot Program,” which started on September 16, 2015, provided an opportunity for small entities to secure expedited review for small entities that had a single pending appeal. Although supported by the PPAC and touted at the PPAC meetings and PTAB outreach events, this pilot program expired on September 16, 2016, due to low participation in the program by stakeholders.
As of September 30, 2016, the Board had received a grand total of 5,680 petitions since the inception of the AIA: 5,143 IPR proceedings, 476 CBM proceedings, 37 PGR proceedings, and 24 derivation proceedings. The majority of the petitions continue to be in the electrical/computer software area. In particular, the petition filings by area of technology since the inception of AIA trials have been: 59% electrical/computer software; 25% mechanical; 9% biotechnology/pharmaceutical; 6% chemical; and <1% design. With respect to IPR, CBM, and PGR petitions filed, patent owners have submitted 4,051 preliminary responses and waived their rights to submit a preliminary response in 754 cases. In addition, 440 petitions have been settled in FY 2016. The PPAC is pleased with the patent owner's usage of preliminary responses, waivers, and settlements because these options were not available in ex parte and inter partes reexamination proceedings. Lastly, the PTAB has issued 1,214 final written decisions in IPR proceedings, 143 in CBM proceedings, and 3 in PGR proceedings.
The PTAB continued to be busy in FY 2016, receiving a peak of 1,683 IPR/CBM/PGR petitions in FY 2016. A comparison of the number of PTAB petitions to district court filings involving patent litigations in 2016 highlights this point. The PTAB received 1,683 petitions from October 1, 2015, to September 30, 2016. By contrast, in all of FY 2016, 1,920 complaints were filed in the Eastern District of Texas, 465 in the District of Delaware, 319 in the Central District of California, and 185 in the Northern District of California. The number of PTAB filings in FY 2016 thus puts the PTAB ahead of all but one of the federal district courts in terms of patent disputes that they are handling.
More PTAB data and statistics are provided on the USPTO PTAB webpage.
The PPAC commends the PTAB for its outreach efforts in FY 2016. In particular, the PTAB hosted:
|●||A program on Ex Parte Appeals and AIA Trials in the USPTO’s Dallas satellite office on January 7, 2016;|
|●||PTAB Stadium Tours beginning on February 24, 2016, where actual PTAB proceedings, including live AIA trials, were held in four law schools in 2016, including at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Emory Law School in Atlanta in February, and University of Missouri and University of Utah in March;|
|●||A "Boardside Chat" webinar about the new AIA Trial Rules on April 26, 2016;|
|●||An AIPLA/USPTO PTAB Bench and Bar Conference on June 15, 2016;|
|●||A "Boardside Chat" webinar on June 23, 2016, to demonstrate a new e-filing system known as PTAB E2E; and|
|●||A "Boardside Chat" webinar on July 27, 2016, to answer questions on PTAB E2E.|
The continued outreach by the PTAB has been favorably received by stakeholders. The outreach provides a valuable two-way conduit for the constructive flow of information to and from the PTAB, thus the PPAC recommends continued outreach by the Board.
In FY 2016, the USPTO completed a review of the initial PTAB rules that went into effect on September 16, 2012. This review started in June 2014, with the USPTO’s request for comments of its AIA trial proceedings in a Federal Register dated June 27, 2014. The Federal Register notice included two parts, one directed to non-rule comments; and a second directed to 17 questions posed by the PTAB to elicit feedback with respect to certain AIA trial rules directed to, among other things, claim construction, claim amendment practice, and patent owner preliminary responses.
The USPTO took a two-step approach in responding to the 37 comments received in response to the June 27, 2014 Federal Register notice. The USPTO referred to the first step as “quick fixes” to the PTAB process. These quick fixes included providing an additional ten pages for a patent owner’s motion to amend, allowing a claims appendix in a motion to amend that did not count toward the page limit, and providing an additional ten pages for a petitioner’s reply brief. These quick fixes were favorably received by the IP stakeholder community.
The USPTO’s second step in response to the June 27, 2014 Federal Register notice was to provide more substantive proposed rule changes. In a Federal Register notice dated August 20, 2015, the PTAB proposed more substantive changes. These changes became effective on April 1, 2016, and had the following effect:
|●||Allowed new testimonial evidence to be submitted with a patent owner’s preliminary response;|
|●||Added a Rule 11-type certification for papers filed in a PTAB proceeding;|
|●||Allowed a district court-type construction approach for claims of patents that will expire before entry of a final written decision; and|
|●||Replaced the current page limit with a word count limit for major briefing.|
The PTAB also considered a separate proposed pilot program to consider alternative approaches to PTAB institutions decisions. The goal of that pilot program was to increase efficiency at the institution stage by initially assigning a single PTAB judge to a petition instead of the three judge panels, as is currently practice. The USPTO decided not to implement this pilot program after receiving feedback from the stakeholder community.
In addition to changes to the trial rules, the PTAB issued 7 precedential opinions this year addressing issues arising in AIA trials. Several of these opinions address matters of PTAB practice and set binding precedent for handling of procedural matters in PTAB trials. Other opinions address matters of statutory interpretation and correspond to cases of first impression.
The PTAB published a Motion to Amend study (“Study”) based on its analysis of motions to amend claims requested in IPRs, CBMs, and PGRs as of April 30, 2016. Of the 4,850 total petitions filed, 1,539 had been instituted and completed trials, and patent owners filed a motion to amend in 192 of those trials. The Study noted that the often publicized six granted motions to amend did not account for 39% of the requested motions (74 of the 192 completed trials) where:
|●||The patent owner requested solely to cancel claims (17 or 9%);|
|●||The motion was rendered moot because the panel of judges found the original claims patentable (16 or 8%); and|
|●||The motion was not decided because the case terminated prior to a final written decision (41 or 21%).|
The Study further demonstrated that 58% of the motions were denied because of prior art, a number that includes 41 cases decided on anticipation or obviousness alone and another 24 cases decided on the basis of multiple reasons that include obviousness. In addition, the Study revealed that 15% of the motions failed for substantive reasons (e.g., deemed unpatentable under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101 or 112), and that another 8% of the motions failed for more formal issues (e.g., under 35 U.S.C. § 316 because the motion proposed an unreasonable number of substitute claims or attempted to enlarge the scope of original claims). Although certain metrics are not reassuring for patent owners, they do highlight that some patent owners are not satisfying procedural requirements when requesting PTAB claim amendments. In response to this concern, the PTAB published additional information in a Director’s blog on Monday May 5, 2014, on how to properly request a PTAB claim amendment (“USPTO Message From PTAB: How to Make Successful Claim Amendments in an AIA Trial Proceeding”).
The PPAC applauds the PTAB for the work it has done since the passage of the AIA. As evidenced by the record, there have been more than 5,500 petitions since the PTAB proceedings went into effect in 2012. In FY 2016, 1,696 petitions were filed. These petitions are often directed to patents in corresponding litigation so the importance of these PTAB proceedings remains critical to stakeholders. The PTAB proceedings took on an additional layer of scrutiny in FY 2016 as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court rendered critical decisions in the PTAB space. Moreover, Congress has been closely following PTAB developments and has held hearings on patent reform where proposed changes to the USPTO’s PTAB rules were hotly debated. The PPAC recommends that the PTAB remain vigilant in rendering its decisions and continue its positive outreach efforts to educate the stakeholder community on important developments in the PTAB area.
The PPAC continues to hear concerns from stakeholders with respect to the PTAB only granting six motions to amend claims in PTAB proceedings. The courts have had an opportunity to change the standard for claim construction in the PTAB proceedings but have decided not to do so. However, the USPTO can rectify this problem by providing a more liberal claim amendment process as many stakeholders expected when the AIA went into effect. The rationale for the broadest reasonable interpretation claim standard at the USPTO is that the patentee can amend claims during the PTAB process; however, such amendments are not allowed in a corresponding litigation in a district court. A more liberal claim amendment practice would further balance the PTAB process in favor of patent owners where there is at least a perceived bias in favor of petitioners by stakeholders.
The PPAC supported the motion to amend study conducted by the PTAB as described above. The PPAC recommends that the PTAB continue to update its statistics on its claim amendment decisions and to periodically update stakeholders.
The substantive PTAB rules changes that went into effect in FY 2016 were a positive step forward. For example, an important aspect of the substantive rule changes gave the patent owner the right to file a newly prepared expert declaration in the patent owner’s preliminary response; prior to this change, the petitioner had the right to submit such declaratory evidence but the patent owner did not have such opportunity as of right. This change makes the PTAB process more balanced. The PPAC recommends that the PTAB continue to review proposed rule changes to continue to hone the efficiency and fairness of the PTAB process.
The PPAC recommends that the PTAB conduct a comprehensive review of all its post grant proceedings including not only the AIA PTAB proceedings, but also reissue and ex parte reexamination proceedings. Such a review would allow the USPTO to determine whether any petitioners are trying to obtain “two bites at the apple” in filing, for example, both an IPR and ex parte reexamination on the same patent. Such a review would also be helpful to better understand how the USPTO is dealing with such overlapping proceedings, whether, for example, the PTAB is staying a related ex parte reexamination request when a corresponding IPR has been filed on the same patent. Moreover, the PPAC recommends that the PTAB engage the USPTO’s IT department to ensure it has IT support to conduct such an analysis as a manual review is likely difficult and time consuming.
The PPAC recommends that different departments in the USPTO more readily share information about a patent family that is undergoing prosecution. For example, if a patent is subject to an IPR or reexam proceeding, an examiner reviewing a continuation patent application that claims priority to the subject patent involved in the IPR or reexamination proceeding should at least be aware of this and review any new prior art references cited in the IPR or reexamination proceedings.
The PPAC applauds the USPTO’s deployment of its new PTAB E2E IT system on July 11, 2016, to replace the basic filing system deployed on September 16, 2012. The PPAC was encouraged that a PTAB outreach program included a Boardside webchat for stakeholders on July 27, 2016, to answer questions with respect to the PTAB E2E. The PPAC recommends that further enhancements be made to the PTAB E2E to allow stakeholders to search the database to find recent decisions on important areas of the PTAB process including PTAB claim amendments, joinders, and discovery.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Cuozzo Speed Techs., LLC v. Lee, decision held, among other things, that a petitioner did not have a right to appeal a PTAB’s decision denying institution. It is also noted that a significant majority of petitioner’s requests for reconsideration of institution denials are denied by the PTAB. The PPAC recommends that the PTAB continue to review how such petitions for reconsideration are being handled by the PTAB and to make results public. The mechanisms for this reconsideration are not clear, i.e., if they are reviewed by the same three judge panel that rendered the initial denial, or by a different judge or panel of judges. Such a review process by the same panel might be considered fruitless by stakeholders. The PTAB may want to consider using an expanded panel of judges to review such denial of institution decisions.
With respect to AIA statistics, the PPAC recommends that the USPTO continually update stakeholders with the latest and most accurate AIA statistics. These statistics are a valuable tool in making decisions regarding whether to take certain actions during a PTAB proceeding, such as, filing a patent owner preliminary response or filing a claim amendment.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to evaluate the administrative process of the PTAB proceedings, educate the stakeholder community on current developments and make improvements in the process consistent with the AIA. Some stakeholders continue to believe that the PTAB proceedings unduly favor petitioners while others believe that the proceedings are fair. In fact, in FY 2016, there has been significant debate in Congress with respect to the fairness of the IPR proceedings. The PTAB roundtables, Boardside chats, and rule changes have helped to address stakeholders’ concerns, but the USPTO needs to remain vigilant in this regard. In this regard, the PPAC has recently received requests from stakeholders that additional guidance be provided with respect to motions for joinder and separately, recommendations to patent owners to help them respond to 35 U.S.C. § 103 obviousness rejections. The USPTO may want to consider including a discussion of these two points in a Boardside webchat or in a blog from the PTAB.
The PPAC recommends that the PTAB update the PTAB Trial Practice Guide based on the substantive rule changes and latest PTAB decisions.
The PPAC applauds the efforts of the PTAB to make more PTAB decisions “precedential” as stakeholders believe that will lead to more consistent PTAB decisions across different PTAB panels and result in more consistent decisions from the Patent Examining Corps.
The PPAC also applauds the PTAB for the significant drop in ex parte appeals to the Board in FY 2016, from a high of 21,543 appeals in October 2015 to a low of 15,448 appeals in September 2016. This drop was based on PTAB’s continued focus on decreasing the backlog in the ex parte appeal area.
The PPAC and patent stakeholder community consider patent pendency to be second only to patent quality. As laudable though the USPTO’s conviction to drive pendency down might be, it is paramount that the quality or durability of an allowed patent is assured.
In FY 2016, the average first action pendency decreased from 17.3 months to 16.2 months (about 4.8 weeks), and the average total pendency decreased from 26.6 months to 25.3 months (about 5.6 weeks). The chart below shows the history of both these measures through June 30, 2016.
With respect to design applications, 29,990 applications were received through June 30, 2016. Total pendency during FY 2016 was, as of June 30, 2016, 20 months; and first action pendency for the same period was 13.2 months. In comparison, total design application pendency in FY 2015, through July 2016, was shorter at 19.6 months, but first action pendency was longer at 14.6 months. Separately, design unexamined application inventory grew from 39,635 as of July 2015, to 41,230 as of June 30, 2016. For reasons not apparent to the PPAC, these data points indicate slight volatility in the pendency of design applications and unexamined application inventory, but not to any level of concern. As with pendency in general, however, the PPAC encourages the USPTO to continue its efforts both to reduce design application pendencies and unexamined application inventories at a sustained and consistent rate.
While the USPTO is to be commended for the sustained decrease in both first action pendency and total pendency over the past four years, as reported last year, the PPAC strongly urges the USPTO to adjust its data points so that its metrics are more meaningful to the innovating community. Specifically, a meaningful measure of pendency would be from the date of filing the initial application for patent (i.e., serialized filings) to the date of grant or final abandonment of that serial number. Having clarity of that cycle time will allow the innovating business community to forecast its patent holdings, prepare budgets and plan for future filings, the revenues of which the USPTO would directly enjoy. Lastly, it is noted that tracking pendency consistent with the benchmarks established by the Congress in the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA), as discussed in Section B, “Determining Optimal Pendency,” below, and the inclusion of RCE pendency in the total pendency numbers reported will ensure consistency in reporting performance, and provide the innovating business community with meaningful information to be used for measuring and reporting regular application pendency.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution created the power to grant patents for the promotion of science and the useful arts, which was to in turn promote a strong U.S. economy. The PPAC believes the underlying basis for granting limited monopolies for non-trivial inventions and the requisite quid pro quo transaction price for that monopoly must remain the compass that directs all stakeholders.
Since the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (AIA) took effect just four years prior to the date of this Report on September 16, 2012, patent quality has come under attack, which puts in question the quality of the USPTO’s performance. Separate but relatedly, patent pendency has become a significant economic issue for the innovation sector, especially those in the technology and life sciences sectors of our economy. As noted in the PPAC’s 2015 Annual Report, pendency levels are of paramount importance to those who pursue, invest in, or rely on patents to protect their innovations and company valuations, because the time spent obtaining patents can have a significant impact on the success and continued operation of small and growing businesses for which quality IP assets are critical to continued market funding.
A recent study titled “The Bright Side of Patents” and conducted by Harvard Business School and New York University (see, USPTO Economic Working Paper No. 2015-5, December 20153), examined whether patents help startups grow and succeed. The results of the study was uplifting (hence, the bright side of patents), finding that ”patent approvals help startups create jobs, grow their sales, innovate, and reward their investors.” In contrast “exogenous delays in the patent examination process significantly reduce firm growth, and job creation, even when a firm’s patent application is eventually approved.” The study’s results suggest that “patents act as a catalyst that sets up startups on a growth path by facilitating their access to capital.” Id. at 3. The causal estimates that the grant of a startup’s first patent increases employment growth over the next five years by an average of 36%, impacts sales growth by about 51%, increases a startup’s ability to continue innovating, and the number of patents the firm is granted by 49%. And, for a common metric of startup success – whether it lists on a stock exchange – early first patent grants more than doubles the probability of listing.
3 The views expressed in the working paper "do not necessarily reflect official positions of the Office of Chief Economist or the [USPTO]. The [paper is] preliminary research being shared ... with the public in order to stimulate discussion, scholarly debate, and critical comment." USPTO Office of Chief Economist, www.uspto.gov/economics.
In contrast, every year of delay in the patent approval process reduced a company’s employment growth by 21% and sales growth by 28%. Delays also negatively impact subsequent patenting – with each year of delay reducing the number of subsequent patents granted to the firm by 14%. And the probability of a company going public can be reduced as much as 50% for each year of delay. “Economically, a two-year delay has the same negative impact on a startup’s growth and success as outright rejection of the patent application.” Given that most nascent companies make or break within the first five years of business, the risks are high.
In terms of securing external financing, the study suggests that a grant of a patent increases a startup’s probability of securing funding from venture capitalists (VC’s) over the following three years is increased by about 53% over the unconditional probability. Clearly, access to funding puts startups on a growth path where products and services come to fruition, which then generate jobs, revenues, and more innovations. Ibid.
It is noted that the USPTO’s overall goal for patent pendency for FY 2016 is 14.8 months for first action pendency and 25.4 months for total pendency, which would shorten the first action pendency by 2.5 months (approx. 11 weeks), and total pendency by 1.2 months (5.2 weeks) as compared to FY 2015 metrics. As previously mentioned, however, the average total pendency that does not factor in the eventual patent grant date, or final rejection date in an RCE, or RCE pendency if RCE requests are filed, has little meaning or value to the innovating business community, since the salient metric is the disposition date, i.e., either the patent grant date or final abandonment date.
The PPAC also believes a focus on the targets established by Congress in the American Inventors Protection Act (AIPA) has a number of benefits, including a reduction in the amount of patent term adjustment (PTA) granted in patents. The PTA provisions of the AIPA set up examination timeframes referred to as the “14-4-4-4-36” benchmark, defined as: (1) issue a first office action on the merits within 14 months from the filing date; (2) respond to an applicant's reply to a rejection or appeal within four months of receipt by the USPTO; (3) act on an application within four months of a decision by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (now “PTAB”) or the federal courts; (4) issue a patent within four months from the payment of the issue fee; and (5) issue a patent within 36 months from the filing date.
Related to the pendency issue is the routine issuance of patent term adjustments, PTAs. One way of looking at the PTA is that it is the equity granted a patent holder because of prosecution backlogs or delays. Because transparency and increased certainty assist agencies and the public, focusing on reducing PTA is a good approach and also good public policy. These congressionally-mandated timeframes target most timeframes of prosecution and would help drive the examination of most applications. Prioritizing the examination of applications based on the amount of PTA that would accrue would ensure handling of all applications without allowing the targeting of any area or type of application while other applications are allowed to develop significant backlogs as occurred with the RCEs. These AIPA targets also would provide greater certainty to applicants and the public for actual expectations on examination timeframes, as from a business standpoint, many applicants would prefer a shorter examination cycle time on the front end than an adjustment on the patent term on the back end. Granting PTA should be the exception, not a routine event. An overall focus on reducing the amount of PTA is urged.
Members of the PPAC continue to support the appreciable reduction of the unexamined patent application inventory. At the end of FY 2015, the unexamined patent application inventory was 553,221 applications. FY 2016, through September 30, 2016, is lower at 537,655 applications; a reduction of 15,566 applications. The USPTO’s 2019 target is 385,500 unexamined applications. The PPAC notes that a significant number of cases needs to be removed from the backlog and recommends that the USPTO remains focused on this reduction. Notwithstanding and as recommended last year, in addition to reducing the backlog of applications, a focus should be maintained on reducing the age of the applications in the backlog to examine the applications in order but also focus on reducing any grants of PTA.
The USPTO has several initiatives in place or soon to be in place that are focused on improving patent quality, which efforts should also help improve patent pendency, including the following:
|●||Track One (Prioritized Examination)|
|●||Post Grant Outcomes Pilot|
The PPAC commends the USPTO for its Track One (Prioritized Examination) initiative. There are businesses, investors, and inventors within the innovating community that make business decisions (including R&D, more patent application filings, hiring, and capital equipment expenditures) based in part on the ability to protect their inventions. For FY 2016, the USPTO’s goal was 12 months from petition grant to allowance under Track One. As of September 30, 2016, petition grant to allowance under Track One is 6.6 months; well below the 12-month goal.
More specifically, the average time from filing of the petition to grant is 1.4 months, from petition grant to first action is 2.1 months, from petition grant to final disposition is 6.6 months, and from petition grant to allowance is 5.2 months. The USPTO implemented the program to grant up to 10,000 applications per year Track One status. Track One utilization has nearly reached this upper limit, further signifying the success and value of this program. The PPAC applauds the USPTO on this program’s development and its successful implementation and believes the Track One Program should be made permanent, at least until the desired pendency and aging unexamined inventory levels are reached.
The USPTO announced a new patent quality initiative, the Post Grant Outcomes Pilot, that involves disclosure of IPR records from proceedings before the PTAB. Details of this initiative continues to develop, some of which were discussed at the PPAC Public Meeting in August 2016. In particular, if a patent is the subject of an IPR before the PTAB, the record from the IPR proceeding – including briefs, expert declarations, prior art references, etc. is provided to examiners with pending progeny applications on their docket. The PPAC believes that providing such examiners with prior art is appropriate and even encouraged. As discussed at the August 2016 PPAC Public Meeting, however, a concern about the appropriateness of providing examiners with adversarial arguments was raised. Other inquiries relating to consistency of outcomes by the PTAB and examination of progeny applications, a record in the progeny application prosecution history of what portion of the IPR record was considered by the examiner and on what date, and whether examiners would be allowed more time were also discussed at the Meeting. The PPAC appreciates that issues arise when sharing the IPR record with examiners on progeny applications. For example, disclosure of all relevant prior art can increase patent quality and consistency among the patent in IPR and its progeny applications, provided that the examiners are given proper training on what documents they are receiving and to understand that the IPR petition represents one biased view to be considered in the examination.
Perhaps the most significant issue for the PPAC is the USPTO’s current process of not having examiners document in the record whether they accessed the IPR materials during the examination of the progeny application and exactly what was accessed and considered. The PPAC urges the USPTO to reconsider that process as it is imperative that applicants have a full and complete listing of all materials accessed and considered by the examiner. Not informing the applicant of this potentially critical information potentially deprives the applicant the ability to distinguish his/her invention from the prior art or the third party adversarial materials. Furthermore, introducing third party adversarial materials, such as expert declarations and litigation-intended briefs into a mandated ex parte examination process might transform it into a quasi-inter partes proceeding to some extent. However, the PPAC supports the examiners receiving information from the IPRs but recommends that this program continue to be evaluated and improved during the pilot period with extensive stakeholders input.
The PPAC urges the USPTO to continue to investigate new avenues for ensuring patent quality while reducing pendency, including extending or making a permanent option, the Track One program. Importantly, as discussed in Sections A and B, above, the pendency metrics for regular applications can be more useful and informative if RCE pendency is added.
Public Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) provides invaluable data for the inventor or assignee to track progress when an application is examined. That said, for the amount of products and services processed by the USPTO, and given the existence of effective and user friendly tracking applications, the PPAC highly recommends the USPTO consider providing a tool that allows an applicant to pull up a list of all applications, perhaps by customer number and serial number, that could easily be accessed for the status of each application. This would allow applicants to stay informed as to the status of all of its pending applications in one place (Public PAIR requires individual searches for each matter) and facilitate better forecasting of its IP assets and budgets, as well as make more accurate valuations of its business for financial purposes.
The PPAC reiterates its urging that the USPTO publish pendency data that actually reflects the entirety of time required from the date of filing to the time a patent grants or final abandonment as the case may be. Current traditional total pendency does not take into account the oftentimes very long period required for action on RCEs. And, the PPAC urges the USPTO to utilize available technologies to both provide stakeholders with timely and meaningful data, and provide the Patent Examining Corps with tools, technologies, and resources that will improve patent quality and reduce pendency at the same time.
The PPAC notes that reducing pendency in a vacuum brings little if any value to the patent holder if the patent granted lacks durability when challenged in post-grant proceedings before the PTAB or the courts.
The PPAC sees tremendous value in the Track One initiative where the petition grant to allowance cycle is 6.6 months. The PPAC also continues to urge the USPTO to appreciably reduce the unexamined inventory with an appropriate sense of urgency.
The PPAC, however, believes further evaluation of the details and process of sharing all information under the Post Grant Outcomes Pilot program submitted in IPR proceedings to examiners with progeny applications is mandated given the potential issues that can arise. As before, the PPAC looks forward to working with the USPTO to develop initiatives that couple patent quality and patent pendency. These steps must be closely tied to initiatives directed to improving patent quality, reducing pendency, and addressing the RCE backlog.
The use of Requests for Continued Examination (RCEs) has become a significant factor in the protraction of the average length of total patent pendency, as perceived by patent applicants. Traditional total pendency as reported by the USPTO does not include RCE pendency. Widely viewed as undesirable, RCEs are now a routine, often unavoidable, measure to reach an allowance in the context of current compact prosecution. While the aim of compact prosecution—to ensure the final disposition of an application in a timely and efficient manner—is indeed laudable and serves the interests of multiple stakeholders across the patent system, its implementation has left the applicant with only a single opportunity to amend pending claims in response to a rejection before potentially facing a final rejection. Due to the increasing difficulty in reaching an agreement on allowable subject matter, a single opportunity is often insufficient to accomplish the task. Filing an RCE, along with the requisite fee, allows the applicant to respond to the final rejection and continue prosecution. In essence, the RCE allows additional time for the applicant and the USPTO to come to an agreement on allowable subject matter. However, amended applications in which an RCE has been filed are not treated as regular amended applications. Rather, these applications have been subject to special docketing and processing procedures that led to a backlog of RCEs awaiting examination. As a consequence, applications in which an RCE has been filed have been subjected to additional delays, interrupting the examination process which was already well underway. In fact, based on the respective averages at the end of FY 2016, the average total patent pendency for applications in which at least one RCE has been filed is more than twice the average total patent pendency for applications in which no RCEs have been filed. While there is still progress to be made, the PPAC commends the USPTO on the tremendous strides made over the past three fiscal years in reducing the backlog of RCEs awaiting examination, as well as the average length of time from filing an RCE to the issuance of an office action in an application. Efforts made by the USPTO, which have resulted in new and updated initiatives designed to give applicants alternatives to filing RCEs, and revised internal docketing procedures to reorder the identification of RCEs for action on an examiner’s docket, have significantly contributed to the progress made. However, the average total pendency of applications in which one or more RCEs have been filed remains a challenge.
As shown in the chart below, following the move of RCEs from the examiner’s amended docket to the special continuing docket, the backlog of RCEs ballooned from about 17,000 in October of 2009 to almost 112,000 in February of 2013; however, focused attention on RCEs reduced the backlog to 78,272 by the end of September 2013. Further implementation of initiatives provided continued progress toward reducing the backlog of RCEs from 46,441, as of October 1, 2014, to 26,901 by the end of FY 2015. The backlog of RCEs rebounded by about 32% at the very beginning of FY 2016 and remained relatively steady on a quarter-over-quarter basis throughout FY 2016, and finished out FY 2016 at 27,394, as of September 30, 2016. The PPAC commends the USPTO for the reduction in the RCE backlog by nearly 76% since the high point of FY 2013.
As can be seen in the chart below, the USPTO experienced an increase in filings of Utility, Plant and Reissue (UPR) patent applications of 5.1% overall with cumulative serialized filings of 418,513 (preliminary) during FY 2016. In comparison, in FY 2015 the USPTO experienced a decline of about 0.3% overall, while in FY 2014 the USPTO experienced a filing growth rate of 2.8%. Preliminary cumulative RCE filings in FY 2016 came to 191,123, as compared with the cumulative RCE filings in FY 2015 of 168,594, and the cumulative RCE filings in FY 2014 of 175,066.
Every Technology Center (TC) experienced an increase in RCE filings in FY 2016. However, as shown in the chart below, the increase was not evenly distributed across the TCs. The developing jurisprudence in patent law, as well as the new and updated examination guidance reflecting the developing case law, likely played a role in the increase and distribution pattern in the RCE filings made in FY 2016.
TC RCE Filings FY 2012-2016
During FY 2016, the USPTO continued to focus efforts on moving the oldest RCEs, resulting in 28.4% (7,815 RCEs) as of October 1, 2016 of the RCE backlog being over four months from filing as of the end of FY 2016, compared to 32.7% (8,972 RCEs) of the RCE backlog at the end of FY 2015, 52% of the RCE backlog at the end of FY 2014, and 73.4% of the RCE backlog at the end of FY 2013. This is a commendable achievement in reducing the RCEs awaiting action and handling them in a more timely fashion.
The chart below shows a comparison of the age distribution of the backlog of RCEs for FY 2016 compared to FY 2015.
Distribution of RCE Backlog by Age
As a result of the backlog of RCEs and removal of them from the amended docket, the average pendency of RCEs rose dramatically. However, the reduction of the backlog was accompanied by a reduction in the percentages of the oldest RCEs awaiting examination. As of September 30, 2016, the average time between the filing of an RCE and an office action was 2.7 months, which represents an improvement over FY 2015, which ended with the average time being 3.3 months. As can be seen in the above chart, the tail of RCEs has been shortened, with the distribution of RCEs moving to earlier ages. The PPAC congratulates the USPTO for continuing the impressive downward trend in the average time between RCE filing and the next office action. However, the PPAC recommends continued focus on reducing the age of the backlog of RCEs to reduce the amount of Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) granted and to reduce the wait time in the middle of “continued examination”. Because RCEs technically are amended applications and PTA begins accruing at four months from the RCE request, all RCEs older than four months will receive PTA of varying amounts of time when actions are completed on them. Of real concern are those pockets in which RCEs have been waiting for longer than four months for the next office action to issue. As a public policy matter, the public should have certainty about when they will be able to utilize patented technology. Granting PTA should be an unusual event; it should not occur in large numbers of applications.
The total pendency time for applications with at least one RCE was 56.2 months at the end of FY 2016, which is less than a 1% decrease from the end of FY 2015. While the total pendency time for such applications has decreased by about 10% since FY 2014, which ended with an average total pendency time of 63.1 months, it is still more than twice the total pendency time for applications in which no RCEs have been filed which, at the end of FY 2016, was 26 months. See the chart below for a comparison of total pendency time for applications in which no RCEs were filed and applications in which one or more RCEs were filed in FYs 2014-2016.
While an overall longer pendency would be expected for an application in which an applicant has elected to continue prosecution beyond a final office action, it is unclear why filing one or more RCEs should more than double the average total pendency as compared to an application in which no RCE is filed. In FY 2016, the average total pendency of an application in which no RCE was filed was 26.0 months, of which an average of 16.4 was spent awaiting first office action and an average of 9.6 months was spent in active prosecution. It would stand to reason that filing one or more RCEs may proportionately increase the average time spent in active prosecution but not double the average total pendency. The spirit and intent behind compact prosecution should not be lost to the applicant upon the filing of one or more RCEs.
The USPTO eliminated a deadline for completing RCEs with the move of RCEs from the amended docket, and as a consequence, significant delays in the prosecution have occurred. This is particularly problematic because, when an RCE is requested, an abandonment is counted and the pendency for that application is captured in the traditional total pendency numbers. However, the pendency for the continued examination of an RCE is not included in the traditional total pendency statistics (see also, discussion in Pendency section, above). It is captured only in RCE pendency and traditional total pendency including RCEs statistics reported on the USPTO Patent Dashboard. While the reduction in the average waiting time to 2.9 months is impressive, to provide real continued examination in RCEs, all applications must be picked up for examination quickly and an established goal for completion of an action in every application is essential. It is not enough that the average pendency for RCEs from filing to the next office action is 2.9 months as of July 2016 because a significant percentage of RCEs are still awaiting examination more than four months from RCE filing, and consequently accruing PTA. It should be a rare exception that any application experiences a wait time longer than 4 months between the filing of an RCE and the next office action. RCEs are amended applications and should be treated consistently as such, and efforts to eliminate PTA at all stages of prosecution should be made. The PPAC again suggests that the USPTO to return RCE applications to the regular amended docket to align with the PTA timeframes mandated by congress for completion of amended applications.
The PPAC commends the USPTO on the significant progress made in many facets of RCE practice. While filing an RCE may be the most practical path forward in many instances, the USPTO has recognized the need for alternative programs for applicants in the interest of timely and efficient prosecution. The USPTO has continued certain programs that have been positively received by stakeholders, made improvements to other programs, and offered newly-designed programs based on stakeholder input. Highlighted below are some of the USPTO initiatives and programs that provide alternative or additional paths to RCEs.
The Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) pilot program is part of the USPTO’s on-going efforts towards compact prosecution and pendency reduction. The QPIDS pilot program eliminates the need to file an RCE with an IDS filed after payment of the issue fee in order for the IDS to be considered. In the event that none of the disclosed information in the IDS is determined to necessitate reopening prosecution, the USPTO will issue a corrected notice of allowability. Currently, the QPIDS pilot program is scheduled to run through the end of the FY 2017.
Under the Pre-Appeal Brief Conference pilot program, an applicant has an opportunity, before filing an appeal brief, to request review of the legal and factual basis of a rejection. A panel comprising at least the examiner, the examiner’s SPE and another individual (who is identified under individual Technology Center mandates) will meet to review the request and decide if an issue in the file is appropriate for appeal. Alternatively, the panel may conclude that the application should be allowed or prosecution re-opened. Applications that are indicated on the decision as being allowed or re-opened will be returned to the examiner’s regular amended application docket.
The After Final Consideration Pilot 2.0 (AFCP2.0) program authorizes additional time for examiners to search and/or consider responses after final rejection. Under the AFCP2.0 program, examiners will also use the additional time to schedule and conduct an interview to discuss the results of their search and/or consideration with the applicant, if the applicant’s response does not place the application in condition for allowance. In this way, the applicant will benefit from the additional search and consideration afforded by the program, even when the results do not lead to allowance. The program is intended to assist in the achievement of the pendency reduction goals, encourage compact prosecution and improve stakeholder satisfaction.
The Post-Prosecution Pilot (P3) program was developed under the USPTO’s Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative (EPQI). The P3 program is available to applicants during the period subsequent to final rejection and prior to the filing of a notice of appeal. It includes effective features from both the AFCP 2.0 program and the Pre-Appeal Brief Conference Pilot Program. While the P3 program provides applicants with an opportunity to present arguments to a panel, the program does not provide for any back-and-forth discussion between the applicants and the panel at the conference. The PPAC suggests that the goals of the pilot program would be better served if the conference allowed for the applicants and the panel to discuss the applicants’ arguments and the potential to overcome the outstanding rejections. The P3 program launched July 11, 2016 and will run for 6 months or when 1,600 requests have been accepted, whichever occurs first.
One additional option to reduce the delay associated with filing an RCE is Track One Prioritized Examination. This program offers prioritization of utility and plant patent applications by giving an application special status without requiring the applicant to conduct a pre-examination prior art search. Prioritized examination may be requested at the time of filing of an original utility or plant application or at the time of filing an RCE. Track One provides applicants with greater control over when their applications are examined and promotes greater efficiency in the patent examination process. The goal of Track One application is to provide a final disposition within twelve months on average from when the prioritized status granted.
The PPAC recommends that a goal for the completion of RCEs be established. The USPTO has defined pendency goals for first office actions and for total pendency, but neither of those measures includes the pendency of RCEs. There is no logical reason for the absence of a target goal for the completion of an action in the RCE. As amended applications, the RCEs should be handled in the same way as other amended applications and completed on the same timeline. They should be returned to the amended docket or at least have a goal set for picking up the RCE completion, preferably four months to be in alignment with the congressionally mandated timeframes and to avoid giving PTA stemming from the USPTO delays in action.
The PPAC recommends providing more alternatives other than the filing of RCEs during prosecution. Increasingly, applications require more than one response in order to reach allowable subject matter. Providing the opportunity of the entry of two responses as a matter of right in each application and/or providing an option for paying for the consideration of one more amendment after a final rejection could assist both applicants and the USPTO in reducing the number of RCEs and total backlog of work.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO permit applicants to participate in an interview in the P3 program conference, pre-appeal brief conference and/or the appeal conference. It is believed that having the opportunity to make arguments and to participate in person in a real-time discussion to with the USPTO would reduce the need for RCEs and appeals to the PTAB. Also, it seems that even more understanding by the USPTO and practitioners of the invention and prior art occurs when there are supervisors present in the interviews, leading to more significant advancement of the prosecution toward agreement. Thus, providing these interview opportunities with the examiner, a supervisor, and in some instances, another senior person, would assist the USPTO and applicants in finding resolution in the cases without the need for an RCE or appeal. This is a desired outcome from all perspectives. It appears that the investment of more time for these interviews would pay dividends in the reduction of overall work for examiners and the PTAB, making it a wise investment. Perhaps the P3 program could be modified to test this proposal.
Applicants appreciate the efforts that the USPTO has made in providing programs that permit the entry of amendments after final rejection. The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue developing and enhancing programs, such as AFCP 2.0, and other programs, which would permit consideration of amendments after final rejection.
Because RCEs represent a significant proportion of new filings as reported by the USPTO but in fact are actually amended applications, the PPAC recommends that the new filings reported instead be characterized as new serialized filings and new RCEs to more accurately capture the distinction between truly new filings and RCEs.
Progress continues in the study of substantive patent law harmonization topics by the Group B+ Patent Offices. Following the suspension of the Tegernsee Group in 2014, a subgroup of the Group B+ Patent Offices was organized to explore how to advance work on patent harmonization. The subgroup includes representatives from Canada, Denmark, the EPO, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Since its formation, the subgroup of the Group B+ Patent Offices has published an Objectives and Principles Document which includes higher level objectives for the patent system, such as the premise that the global patent system should be coherent and balanced offering a fair level of protection to inventors/applicants from all backgrounds. The Document also includes specific principles directed to the Tegernsee issues (i.e., grace period, prior user rights, conflicting applications, and publication of applications). For example, in the area of the grace period, an agreed upon principle is that inventors whose inventions have been disclosed prior to filing a patent application should, in certain circumstances, be given an opportunity to patent their invention. The subgroup has also issued studies on mandatory declarations in the context of the grace period and the treatment of conflicting applications.
In late 2015, the subgroup agreed that further work should be done in an effort to determine “best practices” for each of the items for discussion. This work is being completed via three work streams: (1) non-prejudicial disclosures/grace period; (2) conflicting applications; and (3) prior user rights. In addition, a fourth work stream is dedicated to exploring options for implementation. Each work stream has a selected chair – the grace period work stream is chaired by the EPO; prior user rights is chaired by the JPO; implementation options is chaired by the HIPO (Hungary); and conflicting applications is chaired by the USPTO. Particularly, with respect to conflicting applications, the USPTO is completing a study to determine the frequency with which “secret” prior art is used by examiners in rejections. The other work streams have issued papers that further explore particular facets of each of the issues.
Recognizing the continuing evolution and growth of initiatives, the IP5 Offices follow a program management model proposed by the USPTO. The model formalizes basic project management principles across the program which, until the adoption of this agreement, was inconsistently applied. A key element of the model requires stakeholder benefits to be clearly defined for each of the projects and calls for periodic assessment to ensure those benefits are being achieved. The assessment is done by the program managers who represent the executive leadership of the IP5 Offices. This seemingly simple approach ensures that resources dedicated to the program are commensurate with the value they deliver.
The IP5 Offices continue to meet regularly at the Heads and Deputy Heads levels and at the Working Group Level. There are currently four Working Groups. Work Group 1 (WG1) deals with classification and related topics, including Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). Work Group 2 (WG2) deals with IT-supported business practices, including the Global Dossier initiative and the Priority Document Exchange. Work Group 3 (WG3) deals with work sharing and quality, including PPH. The Statistics Work Group deals with the annual compilation of patent statistics for the IP5 Offices.
In June 2016 in Tokyo, Japan, the Heads of the IP5 Offices met for the 9th Meeting with IP5 Industry and reaffirmed the mission of providing better services for stakeholders and the public. The Heads of the IP5 Offices confirmed that each patent office strives to:
|-||Continue to consider users’ opinions;|
|-||Consider implications of technology advancements on the patent system; and|
|-||Work together to continue to provide quality services thereby aiding in the acquisition of stable patent rights among the IP5 [Patent] Offices.|
The IP5 Offices agreed that to meet these goals, they need to advance the following three initiatives:
|a.||Enhancement of the Relationship with Users|
|The IP5 [Patent] Offices will further enhance their relations with users. The IP5 [Patent] Offices strive to incorporate the opinions of a broader range of users, by, for example, further improving the IP5 website and expanding Public Relation (PR) activities of IP5 initiatives. Also, the IP5 [Patent] Offices will enhance user satisfaction by sharing best practices of user services of each Office in order to identify areas of potential improvement.|
|b.||Continue Providing High-Quality and Reliable Examination Results|
|The IP5 [Patent] Offices undertake to strengthen their cooperation so as to enable their users to obtain high-quality and reliable examination results in a user-friendly way. This will be achieved through deepening of work sharing, quality and patent harmonization initiatives, such as IP5 Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program, Global Dossier, the PCT Collaborative Search and Examination pilot program, Quality Management and Patent Harmonization Expert Panel (PHEP).|
|c.||Exploring the IP [Patent] Offices’ Readiness to Respond to Emerging Technologies|
|The IP5 [Patent] Offices will explore cooperation on office responses to emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). This may be accomplished through sharing of information, exchanging of opinions, or studies on the effects of these technologies.|
One of the topics that was addressed by the representatives was the ongoing planning and development of the Global Dossier Initiative, which is discussed in further detail below.
The Global Dossier Initiative is a set of business services that will give users and stakeholders secure, online, one-stop access to and management of dossier information of all applications that comprise a family and that have been filed in multiple patent offices by establishing a common user interface to each patent office’s electronic database system. However, the Global Dossier initiative is not directed to a single IT application or system. Rather, it can be viewed as a collection of services designed to meet the business needs of multiple users and stakeholders of the patent systems of the IP5 Offices.
The information available via the Global Dossier Initiative includes searching and examination results, combined with increasingly sophisticated machine translation of foreign-language documents. For example, the USPTO examiners received access to the IP5 dossier information as part of the PE2E rollout beginning in the spring of 2015. Such information has allowed examiners to build on the results from the partnering IP5 Patent to help strengthen the patent record that they are creating as well as to assist in improving overall patent examination quality.
The Global Dossier platform was released for public access in November 2015 and has provided stakeholders and users the ability to access the file history information on patent application family data from all IP5 Offices. It has benefited the stakeholder and user community as a whole by providing the ability to track and manage related applications across all IP5 Offices. It will arguably also make it easier for examiners to search and review patent families as well as allow users to have quicker and cheaper access to such data for performing due diligence, technology transfer, litigation and appeal processes.
With respect to accessing such data, the USPTO reports that as of August 2016 the Global Dossier platform was being accessed over 30,000 times daily by users and 10,000 times daily by examiners. These numbers do not represent individual users of the platform but represent the number of times information was accessed in the Global Dossier platform. In FY 2016 to date, the USPTO received over 2.4 million requests for data from examiners in the other IP5 Offices compared to 1.8 million requests in FY 2015.
The Global Dossier platform is now accessible to stakeholders, users and USPTO examiners on a daily basis 24 hours a day/seven days a week. The USPTO continues to encourage all IP5 Offices to strive to provide the same 24/7 accessibility.
A Global Dossier Task Force (GDTF) was created in 2013 to ensure that the needs of the stakeholder and user community drive the development of the Global Dossier system. The GDTF includes representatives from the IP5 Offices, WIPO, and the IP5 Industry Groups (the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA); Business Europe (BE); Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO); Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA); Korea Intellectual Property Association (KINPA); and Patent Protection Association of China (PPAC)).
As a result of the GDTF discussions, the IP5 Offices agreed that each patent office would define the scope of a particular short-term/high-priority goal that the industry groups identified as follows:
|●||USPTO - “Document Sharing (Proof-of-Concept for Inter-Office Exchange)” –sharing documents between patent offices, including, for example, supporting documents for other initiatives, e.g., PPH, CSP, etc., prior art exchanges, and bib data updates. This is viewed as a first step toward cross-filing.|
|●||EPO - “Alerting” – An automated mechanism whereby each patent office alerts all the other patent offices, applicants and their representatives of changes in status to the application.|
|●||JPO - “XML” – Enabling each patent office, and possibly applicants and their representatives, to download all application-related data from applications pending in other offices, in XML format.|
|●||KIPO - “Applicant Name Standardization” – An automated mechanism that will assign a single unique name to entities with applications pending in multiple offices, including in instances where those entities may have used multiple names or variations of a single name to identify themselves.|
|●||SIPO - “Legal Status” – A mechanism to allow one patent office to view the legal status of an application in another office.|
Document Sharing, led by the USPTO, will allow the sharing of documents and information between the IP5 Offices, including, for example, supporting documents for other initiatives, e.g., PPH, CSP, prior art exchanges, etc. This capability is viewed as a first step toward cross-filing among patent offices. The USPTO has been working closely with stakeholders and the user community on document sharing to better understand the functionality and systems that would deliver the greatest benefit to its users as well as to eliminate certain administrative tasks to alleviate the burden on patent offices and their users.
In addition to working on document sharing, the USPTO continues to enhance Global Dossier functionality and services. In July 2016, updates included enhancing the Office Action indicator to allow for direct access to Office Actions, providing additional alerts regarding availability of the IP5 Offices’ dossier systems, and providing users with greater sorting abilities.
In December 2016, the USPTO plans to link the Global Dossier platform to WIPO CASE (Centralized Access to Search and Examination) to provide access to dossier information of additional patent offices. While originally intended to be for offices only, WIPO CASE is moving toward providing that information to the public. This is advancing on an office-by-office basis. WIPO CASE was initially developed by WIPO’s International Bureau in response to a request from the Vancouver Group offices (the patent offices of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom). Based on their requirements, an initial system was deployed in 2011. However, since March 2013, any patent office may join the system by notifying the International Bureau that it is willing to participate according to the framework provisions of the system. These provisions were updated on June 1, 2015. There are two different levels of participation available to patent offices:
|●||Providing Office – A patent office acting as a Providing Office shares its dossier information with other participating offices.|
|●||Accessing Office – A patent office acting as an Accessing Office is permitted to access WIPO CASE to retrieve dossier information from Providing Offices who have confirmed such access.|
WIPO, IP Australia and others proposed to link Global Dossier to WIPO CASE as a way to accelerate the inclusion of additional patent offices. On behalf of IP5 Offices, the JPO tested this linkage in 2014. Further this past summer, JPO, KIPO and SIPO each submitted notifications to WIPO that they will participate in WIPO CASE.
The USPTO is currently a Providing Office to WIPO CASE, and plans on becoming an Accessing Office to WIPO CASE by the end of 2016. The USPTO is a strong supporter of the expansion of WIPO CASE and is encouraging other patent offices to participate.
In April 2014, the IP5 Patent Harmonization Experts Panel (PHEP) agreed to explore potential harmonization in the following areas: unity of invention, citation of prior art, and written description/sufficiency of disclosure.
|a.||Unity of Invention|
U.S. law provides that a patent application can be required to claim only one invention. If the application describes multiple inventions, the applicant may be required to limit the application to a single invention (i.e., restriction practice) and/or to file divisional applications for the additional invention or inventions. Where domestic (as opposed to Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)) applications are concerned, the standard for finding multiple inventions in a single application is low: a U.S. examiner may find that multiple inventions are described even in a single claim. However, where PCT applications are concerned, the USPTO applies a unity of invention standard, if there is any special technical feature between purportedly separate inventions, the inventions are regarded as one. In virtually all jurisdictions outside of the U.S., the unity of invention standard is applied in the examination of all applications, regardless of whether they are filed domestically or via the PCT.
In Tokyo in June 2016 at the IP5 Industry meeting, the IP5 Offices acknowledged the similarities and differences existing in their respective systems and recognized the benefits of future alignment of unity of invention practices. The IP5 Offices agreed to work toward reaching a harmonized IP5 practice for unity of invention for international applications by the end of 2018 and pending internal constraints, the alignment of practices with respect to applications entering the national/regional phase shall also be considered. At this juncture, the alignment of IP5 Offices’ practices in international applications shall focus in particular on the consistent application and better implementation of the unity of invention standard embedded in the PCT.
|b.||Citation of Prior Art|
The prior art discussions are centered around a suggestion from industry that the EPO, JPO, KIPO, SIPO, and USPTO develop a system to enable each IP5 Office to view prior art that the other IP5 Offices have cited during examination. During these discussions, industry representatives have further suggested that, rather than requiring applicants to furnish such prior art themselves, the IP5 Offices should instead, where applicable, establish an automated system that would allow the IP5 Offices to view and have access to such prior art. Representatives of the IP5 Offices are in continuing discussions regarding what legal issues and technology changes would be required in order to implement and adopt such a system. In parallel to the work of the IP5 Offices, the USPTO has formed an internal team to consider potential solutions to this issue.
|c.||Written Description/Sufficiency of Disclosure|
Past Trilateral and other studies have shown that the patent offices have different practices regarding the written description/sufficiency of disclosure requirement. Users have suggested that the offices revisit this issue to consider possible alignment of practices. To that end, the JPO (lead office) had proposed a work plan asking offices to provide analysis of their respective findings regarding the written description requirement that arose in a sample of applications that were filed in all five IP5 Offices. The JPO compiled the results of the case study. At the May 2016 Heads Meeting, it was agreed that the scope of the case study should be expanded to include more cases and technology areas.
Work sharing with other patent offices is a top priority for the USPTO. Work sharing brings forth many benefits not only to the applicants themselves but to the entire IP system. In 2015, the USPTO launched two Collaborative Search Pilot (CSP) programs – one with the JPO and the other with the KIPO. The purpose of these pilot programs, based in the USPTO on the First Action Interview Program, is to provide stakeholders with prior art from two offices early in the examination process. In return, this information should assist applicants in determining next steps in the patent prosecution process resulting in compact prosecution and enhanced quality.
In the JPO pilot program, the USPTO and the JPO exchange search results and the examiners evaluate the other office’s results prior to each examiner fully forming their initial communication. This yields a work product that contains both offices’ input. In the KIPO pilot program, the USPTO and the KIPO contemporaneously and independently search the common claims; the first correspondence from the USPTO includes both the U.S. examiner’s resulting pre-interview communication and the KIPO search report. These differences point to whether it is necessary for examiners to consolidate the prior art and proposed rejections for the applicant (i.e., JPO pilot program) or whether it is sufficient for the applicant to have two independent views on the claims in order to determine its next course of action (i.e., KIPO pilot program).
The pilot programs allow for up to 400 petitions. As of September 30, 2016, the USPTO has granted 34 petitions for the JPO pilot and 60 for the KIPO pilot. The JPO pilot is expected to end on July 31, 2017 and the KIPO pilot on August 31, 2017. The USPTO is regularly presenting to a variety of organizations about these pilots to increase and encourage participation by the user community.
Some potential advantages of using CSP are:
|●||There is no fee for filing a CSP petition and, if granted, initial prosecution of the application will be expedited at no charge;|
|●||Greater consistency in examination across patent offices leading to more certainty of IP rights;|
|●||Early examination of applications in participating offices;|
|●||The need for RCEs may be reduced as prior art is identified early in the pendency of examination;|
|●||Costs are reduced as prosecution is shortened; and|
|●||Potential quicker access to the PPH process in other offices.|
As of September 2016, the number of Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) applications with petitions reached approximately 41,000 with the USPTO receiving an average of approximately 565 requests per month. The chart below shows new PPH requests by month since January 2011 and demonstrates the program’s continued and ongoing growth and acceptance by the stakeholder and user community.
In response to increased popularity of the PPH program and a growing backlog of undecided PPH requests, several measures have been taken to ensure prompt decisions will be made in pending and future PPH requests. As a result of these efforts, applicants who file PPH requests can expect to receive a decision within four months. The USPTO is working toward an ultimate goal of applicants receiving a decision within two months of filing the PPH request.
Recognizing the need and opportunity for greater efficiency, the USPTO and several other patent offices have consolidated and replaced existing PPH programs with the goal of streamlining the PPH process for both patent offices and applicants. This has been accomplished through creating a centralized PPH framework called the “Global PPH” pilot program.
The Global PPH pilot program includes the following offices: Australia (IPAU), Austria (APO), Canada (CIPO), Denmark (DKPTO), Estonia (EPA), Finland (NBPR), Germany (DPMA), Hungary (HIPO), Iceland (IPO), Israel (ILPO), Japan (JPO), Korea (KIPO), Nordic (NPI), Norway (NIPO), Portugal (INPI), Russia (ROSPATENT), Singapore (IPOS), Spain (SPTO), Sweden (PRV) and the USPTO.
The USPTO also has bilateral PPH agreements currently with 8 other patent offices including Colombia (SIC), Czech Republic (IPOCZ), Mexico (IMPI), Nicaragua (NRIP), Philippines (IPOPH), Poland (UPRP), Romania (OSIM), and Taiwan (TIPO). Three of these offices, IMPI, UPRP, and OSIM, have bilateral agreements under global principles.
At the end of 2015, the USPTO and Brazil’s patent office, the National Institute for Industrial Property (or INPI), agreed to establish a PPH pilot program. This agreement was the centerpiece of the 13th U.S.-Brazil Commercial Dialogue, a forum for expanding trade and investment between the two countries. The PPH Pilot Program highlights the commitment both countries have made to provide a high quality and efficient intellectual property system. This program complements efforts already under way in both countries to reduce patent backlogs and shorten patent pendency by leveraging the patent expertise and work product of patent examiners at both offices.
The USPTO has completed its transition to a new classification system, i.e., Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC). CPC is in partnership with the EPO, in which both patent offices manage and maintain the system. During FY 2016, the USPTO planned significant development around CPC automation tools that involve means for examiners to collaborate between offices, tools to maintain schemes and publish revisions, and updates of classification tools for examiners in general.
Currently, 12 patent offices classify using CPC and 45 offices use CPC for search. The Israel Patent Office (IPLO) is the most recent office to become part of the CPC international family. IPLO signed the Memorandum of Understanding in April 2016 and will transition to CPC on September 1, 2016. The USPTO continues to provide training to patent offices around the world, providing general training on CPC classification and searching as well as field-specific training in chemical, electrical, and mechanical/surgical areas of interest.
Examiner training also continues with more advanced CPC training sessions and classes on effective searching proficiency in CPC. As CPC is used every day by examiners, a large drive toward quality in all aspects of examination and classification is being performed.
Along with improved access to more documents from the patent offices around the world, improvements in consistency of classified search results across patent offices are also being achieved. The USPTO believes that CPC is one way to provide greater work sharing capabilities across multiple patent offices now and in the future, which helps advance patent quality globally.
In addition to CPC, the USPTO continues to seek other opportunities for harmonizing classification. In February 2016, a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) was signed by the USPTO and the JPO to cooperate in exploring the potential for harmonizing classification for industrial designs.
The USPTO continues to pursue improvements to the PCT process. Recent improvements include: (i) mandatory top-up searches in Chapter II; and (ii) public availability of the Written Opinion of the Searching Authority at the time of international PCT application publication.
The IP5 Offices recently agreed to strengthen communication and coordination in development of the PCT. The IP5 Offices agreed to prioritize four areas of work: (i) work sharing between International Authorities and national offices; (ii) standards to improve accessibility to international PCT documents and facilitate their utilization; (iii) collaboration to enhance the quality of international searches and preliminary examinations under the PCT; and (iv) utilization of the PCT by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and users. The PCT Working Group, at its most recent session, agreed to send proposed amendments to the PCT Regulations to the PCT Assembly for adoption, and the amendments were adopted in the PCT Assembly. Those amendments will improve work sharing and access to information by automating the transmittal of prior search results and classification information to the International Searching Authority and requiring patent offices to provide information concerning national phase entries to WIPO within prescribed time limits.
Table 3 below shows the USPTO data for PCT procedures through July 2016.
Table 3: PCT Timeliness
The Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (“Hague Agreement”) went into effect for the U.S. on May 13, 2015. An international design application may now be filed either directly with the International Bureau of WIPO or indirectly through the patent office of the applicant’s contracting party. The USPTO serves as an office of indirect filing for applicants having a sufficient connection to the U.S.
As of September 26, 2016, approximately 263 applications have been filed by U.S. applicants with the USPTO as an office of indirect filing and approximately 1,656 applications in which the U.S. is designated and which have been forwarded to the USPTO from WIPO for examination. When serving as an office of indirect filing, the USPTO performs certain checks, such as performing a national security review, and transmits the application to WIPO, if appropriate. In 2015, there were 4,111 international applications filed worldwide, with a combined total of 16,435 designs.
Industrial Design 5 Forum (ID5) is a partnership of the five largest design patent offices, which includes the USPTO, SIPO, European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), JPO, and KIPO. Additionally, WIPO is a participant in an advisory role. The inaugural ID5 meeting was hosted by the USPTO in December 2015 and resulted in thirteen projects. The USPTO is the lead or co-lead on five of these projects. The goal of ID5 is to better understand practices from all partner offices and strive towards more universal convergences in design patents.
The 2016 Annual Meeting will be held in SIPO in November 2016 and will continue to address the agreed projects of ID5.
Over the past two years, the PPAC has watched the USPTO continue to focus its international initiatives, projects and goals for the betterment of the USPTO’s operations. The PPAC commends the USPTO for the creation and implementation of the OIPC, which clearly has had a positive impact on the USPTO. The PPAC applauds the extensive efforts and work of both the OIPC and the OPIA and strongly encourages and recommends that the USPTO look for new and innovative ways to expand and enhance its international initiatives and outreach.
The PPAC recognizes the ongoing financial needs of the USPTO for a secure and modern IT infrastructure to support the USPTO’s commitment to these initiatives. Extensive budget cuts in prior years to the USPTO’s IT infrastructure greatly impacted the timeliness of development, implementation, maintenance and expansion of the USPTO’s international projects. The PPAC strongly supports and recommends stable IT funding along with continued upgrades to the IT infrastructure on a regular basis so as not to negatively impact the USPTO’s global leadership position.
The PPAC commends the USPTO in its international cooperation and work sharing initiatives with multiple patent offices around the world and recommends more in depth dialogue on “global quality” with these offices. The PPAC applauds the continued expansion of PPH and the implementation of Global Dossier and commends the USPTO for seeking stakeholder input on these projects. The PPAC further encourages the USPTO to remain committed to CSP programs with other patent offices and to continue to educate stakeholders on these programs. The PPAC again recommends that the USPTO repeatedly review its efforts to ensure that its initiatives promote quality and timeliness as well as the overall objectives of harmonization and international work sharing.
The PPAC commends the USPTO on its extensive outreach during FY 2016 through a variety of forums. The PPAC strongly supports and recommends continued ongoing educational training and updates regarding the USPTO’s international initiatives and programs via roundtables, webcasts and e-mail notices and applauds the USPTO for its multiple efforts during FY 2016. The PPAC continues to recommend that a general calendar regarding all international initiatives as well as other USPTO outreach activities be accessible and searchable on the USPTO website. The PPAC encourages the USPTO to include more entities having a variety of perspectives regarding the patent system to provide input regarding international initiatives to foster earlier acceptance of new procedures and processes within the USPTO as well as in the global patent arena.
The PPAC applauds the USPTO for its international efforts in FY 2016 and encourages and recommends that it find new and innovative ways to improve and enhance such efforts, while being mindful of the needs and concerns of the stakeholder and user community with regard to a changing global patent arena, in FY 2017.
The value in an organization comes from its people, and the USPTO has been fortunate to build and retain a workforce of dedicated examiners. Quality of examination of patent applications is the heart of the mission of the USPTO, and the work done to hire, train and retain examiners is critically important to the success of the USPTO.
There have been many activities related to human capital in FY 2016. The USPTO has hired new examiners consistent with recent and projected fee collections. The regional offices have been hiring and are likely to be fully staffed by FY 2017. In addition, the USPTO has undertaken a significant amount of work to train its workforce, while continuing to embrace initiatives that attract new talent and improve retention. Further, several third party reviews of The USPTO operations have taken place, and the USPTO has taken affirmative steps to implement specific improvements in response to recommendations from these third party reviews. Importantly, the USPTO continues to do internal surveys to solicit input from employees on what things are working well, and to identify areas for improvement, which is a sign of a healthy organization. The following is a summary of initiatives and a highlight of key developments in 2016.
The USPTO hired an additional 282 examiners by the end of FY 2016. The USPTO saw a decrease in the attrition rate from FY 2015 to FY 2016, from 5.6% in FY 2015 to approximately 3.5% in FY 2016; excluding Transfers and Retirees from the data, the attrition rates fall to 4.3% in FY 2015, and approximately 3.3% in FY 2016. This drop in attrition rate is noteworthy, and is a result of efforts at the USPTO to provide a positive working environment through responsiveness to employee feedback, improved systems and training. These efforts are described in more detail below.
Of the 282 new examiners hired in FY 2016, none were experienced patent professionals. The USPTO continues to look for examiners with previous patent experience because they would require less training and thus would have the ability to start examining patent applications sooner. However, the number of experienced applicants/hires has declined since the start of the program because the USPTO believes there is a limited pool of such candidates and many of those suitable for the open positions have already been hired.
In 2012, the first regional office in Detroit, Michigan, opened for business. In addition to the Midwest regional office in Detroit, there are now permanent regional offices open in Denver, Colorado, Silicon Valley, California, and Dallas, Texas. In FY 2016, 164 UPR Patent Examiners were hired in the regional offices, with 24 hired in Detroit, 75 in Dallas and 65 in San Jose. In addition, 11 Design Patent Examiners were hired in San Jose, for a total of 175 UPR and Design Patent Examiners hired into our regional offices by the end of FY 2016.
The hiring goals for the USPTO need to be consistent with fee collections. Fee collections for FY 2016 were very close to forecast. Also, the USPTO initiated a fee setting process, proposing targeted fee increases. The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to carefully evaluate its hiring needs consistent with both the expected attrition rate and the projected fee collections for FY 2017 so as not to be in a position of over-hiring for expected future needs.
To continue its focus on productivity and quality, the USPTO has instituted and furthered a number of initiatives to make the most of its current Patent Examining Corps. Several of these initiatives are described below:
The USPTO has used overtime and awards as an efficient way to manage its workload and reduce the backlog of applications in addition to new examiner hires. The PPAC believes that continued judicious use of overtime and incentives can be helpful in reducing the backlog of applications.
The USPTO has been successful in developing a nationwide workforce. The USPTO’s workforce includes employees who work at locations other than the Alexandria Headquarters, thus allowing employees to choose where they desire to live. This segment of the USPTO employees either participates in telework programs such as the PHP or TEAPP, or works from the USPTO regional offices in Detroit, Denver, Silicon Valley, or Dallas.
There are currently 4,715 examiners who participate in the PHP. This group is comprised of two segments: employees whose worksite is within 50 miles from the Alexandria Headquarters and those with a worksite greater than 50 miles from the Alexandria Headquarters. As of August 2016, 8,800 or 92% of eligible patent employees work remotely at least part time in the telework program, including 5,209 teleworking full time.
TEAPP is the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 and authorizes the USPTO to conduct a test program allowing employees to waive the right to travel expenses for a reasonable number of mandatory trips to the USPTO. TEAPP allows employees to work anywhere in the contiguous U.S., greater than 50 miles from the Alexandria Headquarters, without a routine reporting requirement back to campus. While enrolled in TEAPP, employees change their duty station to an alternate worksite in the city in which they live. The employee must travel to the USPTO and directed by the agency as outlined in the TEAPP agreement.
The PPAC continues to support TEAPP as an effective means for the USPTO to attract and develop a nationwide workforce. TEAPP began in January 2012, and participation was limited to 25% of full-time teleworkers (hotelers). In July 2013, the TEAPP Oversight Committee reached agreement with the three bargaining units to expand the participation level in the pilot program to 25% of all employees eligible for the PHP (i.e., GS12 and above).
As of the end of August 2016, the table above shows the number of participants in TEAPP. The USPTO currently has 2,266 total participants.
A very tangible example of initiatives to increase examiner capacity and quality is the new IT tools available to examiners. During the second quarter of FY 2015, the USPTO made available to the entire Patent Examining Corps a new system called DAV, the first of a planned series of rollouts of the new PE2E functionality. This new software provides integrated case management, improved ability to prioritize tasks, and numerous features to automate tasks examiners previously carried out by hand. The number of trained DAV users has steadily increased within the Patent Examining Corps with a deadline for transition set for no later than December 31, 2016.
The DAV deployment sets the stage for the rollout of the other key components of PE2E, such as a new advanced examiner search tool and authoring tool for official correspondence (e.g., office actions), as well as the eventual retirement of legacy systems at the USPTO whose outdated custom design dates back to the 1980s. Further, the USPTO has made progress in the implementation of several key projects to support international cooperation and work sharing.
While all of these tools will improve efficiency and help the Patent Examining Corps to improve quality, to achieve these improvements there is required a significant investment of time and effort in training for the new users. This investment will certainly pay off, with the recognition that there could be some short term impact on productivity as the transition to the new systems takes place.
New programs allow employees to take law school courses, and technical courses to enhance their legal and technical knowledge. As part of an ongoing program, the Patent Examining Corps are also being afforded opportunities to visit companies to gain technical knowledge in their areas of expertise, thereby enhancing their ability to fulfill their examination duties.
The USPTO has dedicated significant resources to training to cope with the rapid pace of change in the external patent world, as well as new processes in the USPTO, to enable the Patent Examining Corps to function efficiently and with quality.
IT-specific training was referred to above. This section of the report will focus on Patent Training at Headquarters (PaTH) events and Supervisory Training. These events brought teleworking examiners together with examiners working at the Alexandria Headquarters for communication and team-building, with the goal to increase their level of engagement as employees, boost morale, and enhance examination quality.
1. Patent Training at Headquarters
PaTH is a mandatory event that focuses on encouraging one-on-one and group interactions and collaboration among Headquarters, Hoteling (PHP/TEAPP/50Mile Option), and regional office patent employees, including both managers and examiners. The events are designed for 500-800 employees in related technologies to participate at the Alexandria Headquarters for in-person workshops directed to team building, time management skills, communication skills, and quality work product. The last four completed events included 1,557 participants, as follows:
In addition, 402 TEAPP employees attended the PaTH events (53 in July; 120 in October; 109 in May; and 120 in August), as well as 49 regional office employees (13 in July, 17 in October, 16 in May; and 3 in August).
Five events are scheduled for FY 2017:
|●||Mar 8-9, 2017: TC 1600- 240(1), TC 2900- 206(13), Make up- 20 => 466 total (14 regional)|
|●||May 3-4, 2017: TC 1700- 480(10), Make up- 20 => 500 total (10 regional)|
|●||May 17-18, 2017: TC 1700- 466(10), Make up- 20 => 486 total (10 regional)|
|●||July 26-27, 2017: TC 2100- 480(23), Make up- 20 => 500 total (23 regional)|
|●||Aug 9-10, 2017: TC 2100- 463(23), Make up- 20 => 483 total (23 regional)|
PaTH attendees, over 1,557, participated in interactive group trainings, art unit meetings, panel discussions and technology specific quality discussions. Additional PaTH training topics include: Creating a More Powerful Team through Teambuilding Exercises, Quality Virtual Communications, Change Management, Time Management/Work Life Balance/Managing Stress, & Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) Career Advancement. On the second day of the PaTH event, an Expo was held including: Scientific & Technical Information Center (STIC) presentations, Information Technology Resource Provider (ITRP) product demos, Office of Human Resources (OHR) on wheels, a POPA booth, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) booth as well as a myriad of other USPTO Affinity group booths.
In addition to PaTH, the USPTO has other ongoing significant training programs for the Patent Examining Corps, including:
|●||Guidance on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility|
|●||New Examiner Training Program, a.k.a. Patent Training Academy (Entry Level)|
|●||Examiner Refresher Training Program|
|●||Advanced Examiner Patent Practice Training Program|
|●||SEE Trip Company Visits|
|●||New Supervisory Primary Examiner Training|
Further, in accordance with a White House executive action call to strengthen our patent system and foster innovation, the USPTO is expanding its Patent Examiner Technical Training Program (PETTP) in which the USPTO requests voluntary assistance from technologists, scientists, engineers, and other experts from industry and academia to participate as guest lecturers and provide technical training and expertise to patent examiners regarding the state of the art. Guest lecturers have relevant, historic and current technical knowledge, including industry practices/standards in technological areas of interest.
2. Supervisory Training
A key element of a highly motivated and engaged workforce is a group of supervisors who have the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities to make their organization successful. In this regard, it is critically important that supervisors have the training necessary to obtain the needed knowledge, skills and abilities, with practical guidance on how to best implement them in their day to day work. The USPTO has provided significant training to supervisors in FY 2016, including the following.
“Staying Connected with Employees and WebTA Guidance” was a compulsory two-part training given to all Patents Managers from February 2016 to May 2016. The first part, “Staying Connected with Employees” emphasized the importance of being engaged with employees on a daily basis. The second part of the training presented the management guidance document created in response to the NAPA report, entitled “Management Guidance on Certifying Time and Attendance” and consisted of training on the document itself followed by scenario-based training to reinforce the principles in the document. These principles included basic management responsibilities, identifying time and attendance concerns, and appropriately addressing these concerns in a timely manner.
The Strategic Leadership Forum available for all Patent Managers, held May 18, 2016, included a roundtable discussion on the five different strategic leadership styles as referred to in “Leadership: Theory and Practice (Seventh Edition)”, by Peter G. Northouse. The leadership styles are as follows:
|o||Servant Leadership; and|
At least one Patent Employee Engagement Council (PEEC) member was a facilitator for each table and lead the discussion on the chosen style for that particular table, which allowed each manager the opportunity to share their experiences with their peers, learn about other leadership styles and develop new skills that will help them become better engaged managers.
With respect to the PHP discussed above, NAPA issued a report on July 31, 2015, titled “The United States Patent and Trademark Office: An Internal Controls and Telework Program Review”. The USPTO sought NAPA’s review regarding possible time and attendance violations by certain USPTO patent examiners. The NAPA report indicated that the USPTO has taken steps to address the concerns related to time and attendance and other issues raised by the OIG while recommending “that the USPTO should continue its Telework and Hoteling Programs, while enhancing the tools it uses in strengthening their management practices as recommended in the report.”
The GAO issued two reports in June 2016: GAO-16-490 titled “Patent Office Should Define Quality, Reassess Incentives, and Improve Clarity”, and GAO-16-479 titled “Patent Office Should Strengthen Search Capabilities and Better Monitor Examiners' Work”.
In report GAO-16-490 the GAO was asked to review issues related to patent quality. As part of the review, GAO conducted a survey of a generalizable sample of the USPTO examiners and interviewed officials from the USPTO and knowledgeable stakeholders. This report identified seven recommended actions, two of which focused on human capital: the time examiners need to perform a thorough patent examination, and how current performance incentives affect the extent to which examiners perform thorough patent examinations. The USPTO concurred with each of the recommended actions. Details of the USPTO response may be found on pages 49-52 of the report.
In report GAO-16-479 the GAO was asked to identify ways to improve patent quality through use of the best available prior art. This report identified seven recommended actions, two of which focused on human capital: the time required by an examiner for a prior art search and the technical competence of examiners to complete thorough prior art searches. The USPTO concurred with each of the recommended actions. Details of the USPTO response may be found on pages 80-83 of the report.
The U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued report OIG-14-0990-I in August 2016 titled “Analysis of Patent Examiners’ Time and Attendance”. The OIG’s findings in a report issued August 2015 regarding an “Examiner A”, other related matters, and Congressional interest, suggested to the OIG the need to determine whether time and attendance abuse is a prevalent and persistent problem within the USPTO. With that in mind, the OIG undertook a comprehensive review of data related to more than 8,400 of the USPTO’s approximately 10,000 patent examiners. The OIG made 6 recommendations, all related to human capital, which may be found on page 24 of the report. The recommendations will be reviewed by the USPTO. While that review is being undertaken, the PPAC would note that the data in the OIG report was from 2014 and 2015, which was at a time before the USPTO implemented a number of improvements related to time and attendance in response to the NAPA report.
The PPAC believes that the USPTO takes very seriously the requirement that examiners work the full number of hours for which they are paid and has taken actions against some examiners for whom it could be documented that they were not following the policies for time and attendance. Footnote 2 of the OIG report acknowledges that it did not recommend any actions against examiners be taken based on this report because of possible noncompliance with Federal Rules regarding such actions.
The potential unsupported time alleged by the OIG was about 2% which fell to 1.6% after implementation of steps resulting from the NAPA report. Being able to document 98% or greater of employees’ time seems quite good. While the tools used by the OIG in its evaluation were designed for other purposes, the USPTO does have a robust set of measures that track the output and quality of the work patent examiners perform, including percentage achievement of a production goal, achievement of pendency goals and quality assessment. These measures hold examiners accountable for completing a dictated amount of work within set time periods at a proscribed level of quality, establishing, it is contended, a level of accountability beyond what many workers, in the public or private sector face.
Production goals for examiners are set based on a complexity factor assigned to the art area in which they examine, their GS-grade (higher grade equals more work expected), and the time claimed on their timesheet. Thus, examiners in more complex art are allocated more time for the work, as are more junior examiners and for every hour worked, there is a computer generated report detailing expected and achieved production. This means that for all time claimed by examiners on their time sheet, they were required to complete the amount of work based on their production goal.
Although the examiners rely on electronic means for doing their work, many continue to print out documents for review and analysis, consult with other examiners or the SPE off-line, or do occasional work on another computer. Thus, the PPAC contends that the lack of a digital footprint is not evidence that an examiner was not working. Additionally, patent examiners frequently work hours that they do not claim on their time sheets, that is, voluntary overtime (VOT), to achieve the necessary level of work and quality but this time was disregarded by the OIG.
The USPTO is evaluating the time allocated to examiners to do the examination of patent applications. It is noted, however, that the GAO report found that perhaps examiners need more time to do their work- the exact opposite of the suggestion by the OIG. Computers used by the examiners to identify prior art locates more art than in the past and the job of evaluating that prior art and the claims remains an intellectual process requiring time and at least for now, a person.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to support, promote, and expand the PHP and other telework programs, which permit examiners to work from remote locations. These programs allow the USPTO to attract and retain technical talent to achieve its mission that might not otherwise be available to work as an examiner. In this regard, TEAPP ends or expires on December 8, 2017, and the PPAC strongly urges that legislative action be taken to extend this program. TEAPP has been very successful in attracting and retaining talent, and the loss of this additional tool would have significant negative consequences for the USPTO and its user community. Additionally, implementing an exit strategy would be disruptive to ongoing USPTO operations.
The PPAC recognizes the significant efforts undertaken to provide training to teleworking examiners and supervisors to improve employee engagement, moral, and enhance quality, and the effort to train supervisors responsible for the examiners in order to address issues identified in third party reports. The PPAC strongly supports these efforts and urges the USPTO to continue its efforts in this regard to inculcate these improvements in the culture of the organization. Further, the PPAC encourages the USPTO to reach out to the PPAC and others for continued input and suggestions on ways to sustain and maintain the expected improvements from this training.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO consider the OIG report and continue to evaluate the policies and procedures to ensure that employees understand and are following the time and attendance rules.
The PPAC recognizes the efforts of the USPTO to implement changes in response to third party reports, which are very visible and tangible. However, with three significant third party reports issued in FY 2016, it is recommended that the USPTO be given time to provide the training and support necessary to implement these changes, and to be given time to have the changes take hold, before further third party reviews are requested.
The PPAC understands that the USPTO is continuing to evaluate a shared services model as part of a broader program within the Department of Commerce. This proposal would include a new model for providing human resources support to the USPTO. The PPAC strongly encourages the USPTO to review this proposal carefully to ensure that its potential impacts are fully and well understood before implementation. It is very important to maintain the positive work environment that resulted in the USPTO being ranked the #1 among agency subcomponents as the Best Place to Work in the Federal Government in FY 2013 and #2 in FY 2014.
The mission of the Office of Innovation Development (OID) is to increase the transparency and accessibility of the patent system to unrepresented and/or under-resourced inventors. These inventors can be found in startups, incubators, universities, meet up groups, inventor groups, and working alone in workshops and garages. To help these stakeholders, OID conducts educational outreach programming and to that end OID has added several new initiatives to its repertoire of outreach programs and events. For the past several years, OID has conducted university outreach using the talents of a pool of outreach SPEs from the Patent Examining Corps; the universities are chosen based on USPTO hiring goals/job fairs and the number of engineering students, with attention to numbers of minority students. Since the 1990s, OID’s flagship event has been its inventor conference and this year’s event was held in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Salt Lake City. This free event was attended by over 120 inventors and entrepreneurs and generated very positive feedback.
In 2016, OID expanded its effort to reach out to independent inventor groups such as the Minnesota Inventors Network and the Florida-based Edison Innovators Association; these groups of inventors sponsor gatherings where they share information and best practices. Unfortunately, many of these groups have become less active or inactive; OID visits have helped to invigorate the groups and by welcoming OID speakers, the groups have given OID easy access to venues and appropriate audiences.
By partnering with the Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs), OID can find help in reaching new, appropriate inventor and small business audiences in many areas of the country. These facilities were designated by the USPTO to support the public with patent and trademark assistance. The PTRCs work to bring in educational facilities and they provide an easy way for OID to find venues in many locales that do not have organized inventor groups. OID has thus begun partnering with the PTRCs to provide educational programming.
Another way that OID is actively seeking new audience for its programs is by looking to non-English speaking entrepreneur groups. OID is bringing the first live Spanish language program to Mi Casa in Denver in September, in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Regional Office.
In addition to bringing its programs to new audiences, OID is also developing new programs. As an adjunct to the popular Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium, OID has worked with the Under Secretary’s Office to build roundtables based on the gender gap in patenting and entrepreneurship. OID has received requests for this program content from across the country and presented that content in both New York and Wilmington, Delaware. Additional programs on this gender gap are scheduled for next year as well.
By virtue of their locations across the nation, the Regional Offices (ROs) are situated to serve USPTO stakeholders in their own backyards. Thus the ROs can provide programming customized to the varying needs of stakeholders in their regions and can participate in third party hosted events there as well. Further, as changes are proposed to the USPTO practice, the ROs can engage with stakeholders through roundtables to both provide those stakeholders with information and to hear from those stakeholders regarding proposed changes and report feedback on changes back to the Alexandria Headquarters in a manner not achievable in the past. In addition, the ROs has and will continue to host high level gatherings for visits from the Department of Commerce or the Under Secretary, Deputy Under Secretary, Commissioners, Directors and other personnel of the USPTO as well as visiting dignitaries from various countries around the world. Each of the Regional Offices works within the unique ecosystem of the region they serve while also sharing ideas for programming across the regions that work for specific sets of stakeholders. This has allowed for unique and innovative programs to be established and proven before the USPTO rolls out those programs on a nationwide level. Some examples include Midwest’s International Patent Drafting Competition, Silicon Valley’s Speed Dating for Startups, Rocky Mountain’s Spanish IP Basics Seminar, and Texas’ presence at South by Southwest. In addition to the above, the Regional Offices partner with the USPTO Office of Governmental Affairs to establish and build upon relationships with local, state and federal elected official to further the messaging and mission of the USPTO. Each of the Regional Offices has partnered with elected offices in the region on STEM events or other technology related topics.
But, to view the Regional Offices as only outposts for outreach is to sell the mission and purpose of the Regional Offices short. The Regional Offices partner with every business unit of the USPTO to ensure that USPTO messaging is amplified to all areas of the nation and our stakeholders and to support all USPTO initiatives both internally and externally. Regional Office staff is often the only USPTO presence in some of our regions and the Regional Offices act as the “face” of the USPTO to those stakeholders, either as problem solvers for particular sets of stakeholders or as sounding boards for new ideas about IP policy. Each of the Regional Offices has hired patent examiners, PTAB Judges and Outreach staff that would not otherwise have been attracted to working for the USPTO but for the ability of those employees to work and live in their hometowns and the RO employees contribute to every mission of the USPTO. While the ROs are in a ramp-up phase, the partnering of the ROs with OID, among other business units, has provided a vehicle for hosting programs within the regions. Thus, a particular area of focus in FY 2016 has been the coordination of the OID activities by the Alexandria Headquarters and the ROs. Each of the ROs has a Director in place, and OID and the Regional Directors have regular contact to discuss outreach opportunities and coordinate closely on outreach to communities served by the regional offices. For example, if a request for a speaking opportunity comes in to someone in a RO, the RO reviews to determine if assistance from the Alexandria Headquarters is necessary and coordinates with whichever business unit would be appropriate to engage on that particular topic depending on its size, location, timing, etc. This coordination provides an outstanding ability of the ROs to play a significant role in reaching audiences to discuss the USPTO, the patent system, and the importance of IP and its role in fostering innovation that might not have otherwise occurred.
Regarding specific events, in addition to the Salt Lake City and Spanish Language events mentioned above, other partnering events have included: a booth and presentation at the San Mateo Maker Faire; Seminars in El Paso and San Antonio; and Lunch and Learn sessions in Detroit.
The ROs have hosted numerous and varied programming focused on all areas within the USPTO. In fact, the Midwest Regional Office has reached over 9,000 stakeholders in over 250 events. The Rocky Mountain Regional Office has reached over 18,000 stakeholders in over 220 events since January of 2016. The Silicon Valley Regional Office has reached nearly half a million stakeholders in over 180 events including several national conferences. The Texas Regional Office has reached over 14,000 stakeholders in over 180 events. During 2016, some examples of RO events have included: watch event at SV Office for Patent Quality Chat Webinar; Trademark Tuesdays at the Midwest Regional Office; Petitions Seminar at the Texas Regional Office; and a seminar on Legal and Policy Considerations of Intellectual Property in 3D Printing at the Rocky Mountain Regional Office.
OID continued its long history of partnering with other government agencies both within Commerce and in the broader federal government. In that regard, OID participated in SBIR’s Road Tour and coordinated with the Regional Offices for participation in SBIR’s Bus Tours around the country. OID’s webinar series in partnership with MBDA continues to be popular.
As part of OID’s efforts to increase its outreach to under-resourced groups, OID has begun work with Operation HOPE to plan outreach to would-be entrepreneurs transitioning from prison to home life. Traditional jobs are beyond the reach of many of those leaving prison and entrepreneurship can be their only lifeline. The first of these events is planned for the week of October 12 which is Global Dignity Day.
To increase its reach to independent inventors, OID has begun working with the United Inventors Association of America; this non-profit alliance has helped connect OID to inventor groups around the country. Visits and presentations to those groups has begun and OID will continue building those connections in the coming year.
In addition, the USPTO is continuing its partnership with Cornell University; a partnership which is spearheaded by the Office of the Under Secretary. The partnership with the Smithsonian Institution continues to be valuable to the USPTO and has brought a varied of speakers to events for employees, including Alan and Ann Rothschild, authors of “Inventing a Better Mousetrap: 200 Years of American History in the Amazing World of Patent Models.” The USPTO has also re-committed to the many partnerships it has around the country, such as Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts New York, focused on ensuring the success of the Patent Pro Bono Program.
The PPAC continues to strongly support the outreach efforts of the OID. The PPAC recognizes in importance of the ROs in enhancing the outreach efforts of the USPTO. With the newness of the ROs, it is natural that there will be some intersections in these outreach efforts. It is recommended that the Regional Directors and OID continue their close cooperation on outreach efforts, with particular attention given to those in the local communities that may not have been adequately served when all outreach activities were centered in the Alexandria Headquarters but ensure that fiscally responsible principles are applied.
The PPAC also recommends that the OID and Regional Directors strive to ensure that all outreach efforts are evaluated to determine the most cost effective and efficient means to support those efforts. The PPAC also recommends developing plans for at least one or more PPAC quarterly meetings to be held at ROs, to further the goals of both the ROs as well as the PPAC in gathering relevant stakeholder involvement in USPTO public engagement.
Enactment of additional patent reform in the remaining months of the 114th Congress (2015-2016) is unlikely. Largely similar bills, H.R. 9 (the Innovation Act) and S. 1137 (the PATENT Act), were approved by the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, respectively, in June 2015. Both bills were designed to address allegedly abusive patent litigation practices and attempt to increase transparency in the patent system. Progress of the bills was stalled when consensus could not be reached among stakeholder groups on several controversial provisions including, in particular, substantive changes to the scope and administration of the USPTO’s post-grant review proceedings and litigation fee shifting provisions. However, discussions continue regarding a possible path forward that might include crafting a new, scaled-back package of reforms that combines a venue provision along with certain parts of the House or Senate bill, such as the customer-suit stay, demand letter and transparency provisions. Venue reform in patent infringement cases is of particular interest to many stakeholders because of statistics indicating that active forum shopping has resulted in the great majority of cases being filed in a limited number of federal district courts.
While stakeholders have different views regarding the appropriate composition of a new patent reform bill, the PPAC was pleased to see that most all were united in supporting enactment of S. 1890, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. The bill was signed into law (P.L. 114-153) on May 11, 2016, following near-unanimous votes of 87-0 in the Senate and 410-2 in the House. The new law establishes a Federal civil private cause of action for trade secret theft that provides U.S. businesses with a more uniform, reliable, and predictable means of protecting their valuable trade secrets anywhere in the country. Effective protection of valuable trade secrets helps promote the innovation that is a key engine of our nation's economy.
The Fee Setting authority for the USPTO, provided under AIA, is scheduled to expire in 2018. It is a key priority of the USPTO to reauthorize that authority. The PPAC has continued to play a role in assisting the USPTO and providing comment in setting fees for its services. The PPAC agrees that the fee setting authority should be reauthorized.
Commissioner for Trademarks Mary Boney Denison provided testimony on February 11, 2016, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet at a hearing captioned “Resolving Issues with Confiscated Property in Cuba, Havana Club Rum and Other Property.” USPTO’s Office of Policy and International Affairs Attorney-Advisor Conrad Wong testified on April 27, 2016, before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on “Counterfeits and Their Impact on Consumer Health and Safety.” On June 7, 2016, Mark Cohen, Senior Counsel, China, in the USPTO’s Office of Policy and International Affairs, provided testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law on the issue of “International Antitrust Enforcement: China and Beyond.” On September 13, 2016, Director Lee testified before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet at an oversight hearing of the USPTO.
The PPAC commends the USPTO leadership in its testimony before these various Congressional bodies, given the wide-ranging nature of questioning and the technical and complex nature of the USPTO's operations.
|o||H.R. 9, Innovation Act (Rep. Goodlatte, R-VA-6) – comprehensive patent reform bill approved by House Judiciary Committee on 24-8 vote on June 11, 2015.|
|o||S. 1137, Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship (PATENT) Act of 2015 (Sen. Grassley, R‐IA) – introduced April 29, 2015 – patent litigation reform bill approved by Judiciary Committee on 16-4 vote on June 4, 2015.|
|o||S. 632, Support Technology and Research for our Nation’s Growth (STRONG) Patents Act of 2015 (Sen. Coons, D-DE) – introduced March 3, 2015 – alternative to S. 1137.|
|o||H.R. 1832, Innovation Protection Act (Rep. Conyers, D‐MI‐13) – introduced April 16, 2015 – ensures USPTO’s full access to all user fee collections.|
|o||H.R. 2045, Targeting Rogue and Opaque Letters (TROL) Act of 2015 (Rep. Burgess, R‐TX‐26) ‐ approved by House Energy and Commerce Committee on 30-22 vote on April 29, 2015 – attempts to address abusive patent “demand” letters.|
|o||H.R. 1896, Demand Letter Transparency Act of 2015 (Rep. Polis, D-CO-2) – introduced April 20, 2015 – requires certain detailed disclosures in patent demand letters with USPTO oversight.|
|o||S. 2733, Venue Equity and Non-Uniformity Elimination (VENUE) Act of 2016 (Sen. Flake, R-AZ) – introduced March 17, 2016 – addresses forum shopping by requiring more significant contact by a plaintiff or defendant with a particular judicial district.|
|o||H.R. 1057, Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act – (Rep. Issa, R-CA-49) and 22 co-sponsors – hearing conducted by Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet on 2-2-16 – effectively limits design patent protection to 2½ years for exterior car parts (e.g., hood, fender, tail light, side mirror).|
|o||S. 560, Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales (PARTS) Act – (Sen. Hatch, R-UT and Sen. Whitehouse, D-RI) – referred to Senate Judiciary Committee on 2-25-15 – Senate companion to H.R. 1057.|
The PPAC actively reviews and advises the USPTO on proposed legislative and administrative changes including those aimed at patent quality issues and potentially abusive patent assertion activities, and other adjustments to the patent laws, and the USPTO's fee setting authority, and will continue to monitor and consult with the USPTO on any such changes.
The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to engage decision makers and other stakeholders to help ensure that any proposed legislative or administrative changes are appropriately crafted and narrowly targeted without adversely affecting the overall patent system, especially in terms of balance and fairness to all stakeholders, the efficient operation of the examination process, the quality of patents issued, or the overall costs and burdens to patent owners and other participants in the patent system. The PPAC also recommends that the USPTO stay abreast of potential suggested legislative changes regarding subject matter eligibility (35 U.S.C. § 101). Further, the USPTO should work within the Administration and with Congress to ensure that it continues to retain its current fee setting authority as well as access to all future fee collections regardless of any government-wide sequestration or other limitation.
In addition, as noted TEAPP ends or expires on December 8, 2017, and the PPAC strongly urges that legislative action be taken to extend this program, to continue to support, promote, and expand the PHP and other telework programs, which permit examiners to work from remote locations. TEAPP has been very successful in attracting and retaining talent, and the loss of this additional tool would have significant negative consequences for the USPTO and its user community and be disruptive to ongoing USPTO operations.
ESTHER M. KEPPLINGER, CHAIRMAN
Ms. Kepplinger is currently the chief patent counselor at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. Her responsibilities include serving as the firm's liaison to the USPTO. She served for five years as the deputy commissioner for patent operations at the USPTO. During her tenure at the USPTO, she assisted in the development of policy for the Patent Examining Corps, played an active role in Trilateral meetings and projects, and she led several international negotiations working with other patent offices and the World Intellectual Property Organization to draft agreements, rules, and standards. She has 43 years of experience in intellectual property protection, spending 32 years at the USPTO. She received her bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Kepplinger is currently serving her second term as a PPAC member.
MARYLEE JENKINS, VICE CHAIRMAN
Ms. Jenkins is a partner and former chairperson of the Intellectual Property Group in the New York office of Arent Fox LLP. Marylee counsels Fortune 500 companies, international businesses and emerging technologies regarding intellectual property disputes and strategies, portfolio enforcement and management and technology development and protection. Her clients represent a variety of industries including computer hardware, software, Internet and various computer-related technologies; electrical and electromechanical devices and systems; the information and financial sectors; biotechnology; consumer products; fashion design; health care; medical devices; and real estate and construction. Ms. Jenkins is a past Chairperson of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Intellectual Property Law and a past President of the New York Intellectual Property Law Association. She currently serves on the ABA Standing Committee on Technology and Information Systems and is Co-Chairperson of New York Law School’s Innovation Center for Law and Technology Advisory Board. Ms. Jenkins received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science; a bachelor's degree in physics from Centre College of Kentucky; and her law degree from New York Law School. She is serving her first term as a PPAC member.
WAYNE P. SOBON
Mr. Sobon is an intellectual property and business consultant, leveraging a wide-ranging legal and business background and over thirty years of experience to provide integrated intellectual property, business, and strategic consulting services tailored to start-ups and mid-sized companies. Previously Mr. Sobon served as Associate General Counsel and Director of Intellectual Property for Accenture for over a decade, and was most recently Senior VP and General Counsel of Inventergy Global, Inc., a publicly-traded IP value creation firm. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mr. Sobon is a frequent speaker and lecturer on intellectual property issues, is a Past-President of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), a member of the board of Invent Now.org of the National Inventor Hall of Fame, and a prior member of the board of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Mr. Sobon received a bachelor's degree in physics and a bachelor's degree in German studies from Stanford University. He received his law degree and master's in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Sobon is currently serving his second term as a PPAC member.
Mr. Thurlow is a patent attorney and partner at Polsinelli law firm in New York. He has significant experience in all aspects of domestic and international patent prosecution, including Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), reissue and reexamination proceedings. As a patent prosecution attorney, his experience includes drafting, filing, and prosecuting United States patent cooperation treaties and international patent applications. Mr. Thurlow provides litigation support for patent litigation in the District Courts, the International Trade Commission, and before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Mr. Thurlow is the current Second Vice President for the New York Intellectual Property Law Association (NYIPLA). Mr. Thurlow has been active in the implementation of the America Invents Act (AIA), representing the NYIPLA's views before the USPTO. Mr. Thurlow received his bachelor's degree in marine engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy; his master's in business administration from Pace University in New York; and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School. Mr. Thurlow is serving his second term as a PPAC member.
Mr. Goodson is the founder and principal engineer of Goodson Engineering in Denton, Texas, where he leads a team of professional engineers with specialties in electrical, mechanical, fire protection, and forensic engineering. Mr. Goodson is a consultant for public sector agencies, as well as commercial and industrial concerns. He is experienced in electrical death and injury analysis, carbon monoxide death analysis, and mechanical fire causation. His work has been published in numerous professional journals. He was the first engineer to serve on the State of Texas Electrical Board. Mr. Goodson served as a Court Special Master from 1989-1991. He was recently named editor of the new journal JFire. He is the engineer serving on the Texas Fire Marshal’s Science Advisory Workgroup, where fire-related criminal convictions are being reviewed for accuracy of scientific evidence. In 2014, Mr. Goodson was appointed to the NIST panel on forensic sciences (NIST –OSAC). In 2015, UL named him as the electrical engineer that serves on their new fire investigation panel. He has testified in excess of 450 instances as an expert witness. Mr. Goodson holds a BSEE from Texas A&M, and attended UT Southwestern where he studied forensics. He is a licensed engineer in 15 states. Mr. Goodson is an independent inventor, holds eight patents and has several more pending. Mr. Goodson is currently serving his first term as a PPAC member.
Mr. Lang is vice president, intellectual property, and deputy general counsel at Cisco Systems located in San Jose, California. He leads a team responsible for Cisco’s intellectual property program, including portfolio development, patent licensing and acquisition, and policy. He has overall responsibility for leading a telecommunications industry portfolio of over 12,000 U.S. patents. Mr. Lang is also registered to practice before the USPTO. Mr. Lang is serving his first term as a PPAC member.
P. MICHAEL WALKER
Mr. Walker retired as the Vice President, Assistant General Counsel and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for DuPont. He began his legal career in a law firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1986, and joined DuPont in 1990. While at DuPont, he has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility in the patent organization, including manager for the European patent organization in Geneva, Switzerland. He was named Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property in 2001, and became Chef Intellectual Property Counsel in 2003. He is a former board member of the Intellectual Property Owners Association and a former president of the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel. As Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Mr. Walker was responsible for all legal issues and policy matters related to DuPont patents and related intellectual property, including patent application preparation and prosecution, client counseling, patent opinions, and intellectual property aspects of transactions. Mr. Walker is serving his first term as a PPAC member.
Ms. Mar-Spinola holds a dual business and legal role as Finjan Holdings, Inc.'s Chief Intellectual Property Officer and Vice President of Legal. She is responsible for the Company's revenue-based operations, including IP assets, cyber technology innovations, enforcement programs, licensing best practices, public policy initiatives, and mentorships. In 2016, Ms. Mar-Spinola was appointed to the Board of Directors for subsidiary, Finjan Mobile, Inc. Ms. Mar-Spinola has dedicated her entire professional career in representing high technology companies of all sizes and business models on all things IP, including IP portfolio development, M&A's, acquisitions, divestitures, enforcement (licensing and litigation), as well as preservation and monetization of proprietary technologies and patents.
Ms. Mar-Spinola is Chairman Emeritus and co-founder of ChIPs (www.chipsnetwork.org), a non-profit dedicated to advancing women at the confluence of law, technology, and regulatory policy. She serves as a court appointed mediator specializing in patent and other complex disputes, since 2011, and is a member of the High Tech Advisory Board at Santa Clara University, School of Law, since 2014. Ms. Mar-Spinola received her J.D. degree from Santa Clara University, School of Law, and her B.A. degree in Chemistry from San Jose State University. Ms. Mar-Spinola has also been recognized for her contributions in the fields of technology and law, including most recently by the Silicon Valley Business Journal and the Recorder. Ms. Mar-Spinola is serving her first term as a PPAC member.
Ms. Camacho is the Chief Legal Officer for Gen9, Inc. She is responsible for all aspects of the company’s legal affairs and intellectual property. Prior to joining Gen9, Ms. Camacho was a partner in the international law firms of Proskauer Rose, LLP and Greenberg Traurig, LLP where she represented multiple clients in the life sciences industry, including biotechnology and synthetic biology companies, pharmaceutical and medtech companies, investment banks, venture capital firms, and other industry stakeholders. Ms. Camacho has been recognized for her work in the fields of intellectual property and life sciences law and has multiple awards and honors, including the Tech Luminary and Innovation All-Star Award from Boston Business Journal and Mass High Tech. She received her bachelor’s degree in Cell and Structural Biology from the University of Illinois, and her law degree from Boston College Law School. Ms. Camacho is currently serving her first term as a PPAC member.
|PATENT PUBLIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBERS
Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati
Jennifer A. Camacho
PPAC Vice Chairman
Arent Fox LLP
PPAC Finance Subcommittee Chairman
Finjan Holdings, Inc.
Wayne P. Sobon
Wayne Sobon Consulting
Polsinelli Law Firm
P. Michael Walker
Patent Office Professional Association (POPA)
National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), Local 245
Vernon Ako Towler
National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), Local 243
|Table of Contents|
|How to Analyze the USPTO Patent Fee Proposal|
|The PPAC Supports USPTO Fee Increases to Support the Office’s Needs|
|Certain Fee Increases Raise Concerns|
|Enhanced Claim Fees|
|New IDS Model|
|Notice of Appeal and Forwarding Fees|
|Fees for Post-Grant Proceedings|
|OED (Office of Enrollment and Discipline) Fees|
|Design Patent Fees|
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or Office) is funded by user fees. Under the America Invents Act (AIA), the USPTO was given the ability to set its own fees but this authority is subject to the USPTO taking specific steps to collect and consider public input. The Office is now invoking this process as part of its first biennial review since the enactment of the AIA. After completion of a biennial fee review, Director Michelle Lee communicated a new patent fee adjustment proposal to the Patent Public Advisory Committee (PPAC) on October 27, 2015. The PPAC responded as required by collecting public input and holding a public hearing on November 19, 2015. This PPAC Fee Setting Report takes into consideration the submitted public comments and input gathered from the public hearing. After considering the PPAC’s input, the USPTO will then issue a fee adjustment proposal by publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to invite further public comment. The Office will then adopt the new fee schedule by Rulemaking with the new fees proposed to go into effect in the summer of 2017.
The PPAC believes that it is important to provide the USPTO with fee income sufficient to operate a world-class patent examination capability. The Office relies entirely on user funding. The USPTO’s statutory authority permits the setting of fees, which in the aggregate are sufficient to operate the Office and support efficient implementation of critical initiatives in the areas of quality, pendency, and information technology (IT). Evaluating the aggregate fee level requires forming considered views on the USPTO’s actual needs and the value to the Nation’s intellectual property system of increased spending to support the USPTO’s goals of quality, timeliness and organizational excellence. The perceived efficiency of the Office in spending money and the rigor with which expenditures are evaluated and prioritized are also critical. Another related lens for viewing the proposal is the life cycle cost for obtaining and maintaining patent protection. Will an increase in costs excessively deter applicants from protecting their intellectual property? Does the USPTO’s financial model adequately consider the prospect that price sensitive applicants will limit filings leading to lower than projected income?
A separate issue is whether the aggregate increase has been translated optimally into individual fee adjustments. Most of the public input has focused on this important aspect rather than the USPTO’s overall financial model. The levels of specific fees such as Request for Continued Examination (RCE) fees, extension of time fees, and Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) fees can influence the behavior of applicants and can indirectly affect incentives and behavior within the Office. As the report will explain, the PPAC agrees with much of the public comment that criticizes the incentive/behavior-based rationale for certain adjustments. However if one accepts that the aggregate revenue enhancement target is correct, criticism to the effect that certain fees are too high necessarily implies that other fees should be raised instead.
The USPTO requires sustained and adequate funding to maintain its position as the best patent office in the world. Maintaining and increasing quality will require continued adequate funding in order to continue to attract and retain a skilled workforce and continue the implementation of a necessary and overdue but intrinsically costly upgrade of its IT infrastructure. A robust and secure IT system is essential.
With any fee structure, the USPTO’s income cannot be predicted with certainty. Recent years saw a decrease in income compared to projected levels due to lower than expected filings. Because of this uncertainty, the USPTO’s fee income should be sufficient to fund not only current operations but also its operating reserve and assure that multi-year initiatives are not impeded by short-term fluctuations in revenue.
The public input received by the PPAC as part of the fee setting process did not emphasize the implications of fee increases for the USPTO’s overall revenue. However, the broad spectrum of stakeholders understands the importance of an adequately funded USPTO as evidenced by their consistent strong advocacy for the USPTO to keep the fees it collects and have the autonomy to set them. The PPAC agrees that the Office should set its fees to establish an adequate revenue stream over a sustained period to fund the people and infrastructure essential for a high quality, low pendency examination process, and to fund its operating reserve.
However, the PPAC also believes that as part of the fee setting process, the USPTO should be more detailed about the rationale for higher fees to avoid a perception of arbitrariness. Numerous public comments emphasized the need for greater transparency in the allocation of costs, historical aspects of the costs, and explanations as to why particular fees should be increased and how the increased revenues would be used (for example the quality improvements). It would be appropriate and helpful, for example, for the USPTO to outline the likely practical consequences for the USPTO’s operations if the current fee structure were not changed. The public also would benefit from greater understanding of how the USPTO is prioritizing expenditures and how they are allocated between core examination functions and overhead. It also would be beneficial to understand to what extent the PTO has considered alternative approaches that involve greater adjustments on the expenditure side but a smaller fee increase. The PPAC believes that further justification is required which should help build public support for any new fee schedule.
The fee setting proposal includes significant increases to Request for Continued Examination (RCE) fees and the proposed revised RCE fees have attracted criticism from multiple commenters. Given that the work of processing an RCE occurs after the Examiner has already reviewed the patent application, performed a search, reviewed prior art, and prepared office actions, one would expect that the time involved in the RCE review would be much less than for an initial examination, even taking into consideration that some additional work must be completed on the RCE. The new fees (for large entities $1500 for first request and $2000 for second and subsequent requests) therefore seem arbitrary and/or excessive. The PPAC acknowledges that the unit cost figures for RCE work given by the Office exceed the current fees but it is not understood how these costs have been allocated among the steps of prosecution or how they can be so high for a case that has already been in front of the same Examiner.
The high RCE fees seem to be as a means of trying to discourage applicants from stringing out prosecution with “unnecessary” RCEs. However, the widespread perception in the applicant community is that RCEs are a necessity rather than a choice given inefficiencies in the examination process and the current system in the USPTO that incentivize the Examiner to push for the filing of an RCE. The examination seems to vary considerably depending upon the Examiner assigned to the application. As a consequence one applicant may need one or more RCEs to navigate prosecution, while another applicant may not require any RCEs. The PPAC expects that even with higher fees, applicants will continue to file RCEs in similar numbers because they file RCEs for a quick route to patent issuance. Additionally, this problem is attenuated by the fact that the filing fees are only a small component of the overall expense of preparing and filing an RCE which mostly consists of patent attorney or agent fees. In the view of the PPAC, the enhanced RCE fees would be an added incidental expense imposed on applicants based on the vagaries of individual examinations. The PPAC urges the Office to reconsider the proposed increases to RCE fees. The PPAC recommends that the USPTO continue to focus on initiatives directed to reducing the need for RCEs and which are aligned with the Office’s goals of reduced pendency and improved quality.
The new proposed excess claim fees also seem high relative to the incremental work to be done in search and examination. If additional patent claims are legitimately deemed to be directed to dissimilar subject matter then a restriction requirement is appropriate and the applicant will be required to submit a divisional application subject to separate search and examination fees. The PPAC urges the Office to reconsider whether the new proposed excess claim fees are in fact justified or are the best solution to achieve patent quality, enhanced revenues, and maximum efficiency.
It also seems unfair that excess claim fees are assessed prior to restriction practice such that applicants are often forced to pay them even when the claims are fated to be canceled and pursued, if at all, in a separate application. The PPAC suggests that the Office consider implementing a refund scheme so that most or all of excess claim fees are refunded whenever excess claims are canceled in response to a restriction requirement. The costs for claims should reflect the claims actually examined, not just filed.
The new fee proposal incorporates a significant change in the procedure for filing an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) after a first action on the merits (FAOM). Under the proposed structure, certification under 37 C.F.R. 1.97(e) would no longer be needed nor would it be necessary to employ Quick Path Information Disclosure Statement (QPIDS) or file an RCE to obtain consideration of an IDS. There would, however, be a significant increase in fees for consideration of an IDS submitted after the FAOM or allowance.
Although good faith applicants will submit prior art prior to examination wherever possible, post-FAOM IDS practice is often unavoidable. New art often arises in related foreign prosecution or in adversarial proceedings such as litigation or post-grant reviews or reexamination of related cases, or simply in the course of an applicant’s on-going research and development. The proposed increase in fees may appear to be an unfair and unjustified financial penalty on applicants who are being as timely as feasible in meeting their legal duty and bringing art to the attention to the Office. Raising IDS fees in fact can serve as a disincentive to complying with the requirement to file promptly when new prior art is discovered.
Although the PPAC appreciates the advantages of streamlining application procedures, we are also concerned that eliminating certification as a requirement may have unintended consequences on the efficiency of the examination process and patent quality. Examination works best when the Examiner has all the relevant prior art when preparing the FAOM, because realistically, that is when the Examiner can give the case maximum attention and focus. Significant new art received post-FAOM can substantially undermine the Examiner’s initial analysis. Often this is unavoidable because of, e.g., developments in foreign prosecution and newly identified references. An unfortunate side effect of the proposal is that perhaps some applicants may willingly incur the fee for a late submission and delay the disclosure of significant prior art in the hope that it will be subject to a more cursory review after a FAOM. Either efficiency, quality, or both suffer in this scenario since the Examiner must consider the new references, revisit the claims, potentially redo the search, and undertake additional work to determine patentability.
Currently, an applicant can submit prior art with a certification under 37 C.F.R. 1.97(e) and if submitted within 30 days of receipt, the prior art will be considered and there is no impact on Patent Term Adjustment (PTA) for any patent issuing from that application. The new proposal would eliminate this option and perhaps result in a disincentive to early submission of new prior art because each submission of prior art after an FAOM would result in a fee. Such a scheme could result in applicants waiting to submit all new prior art until late in prosecution so the fee is paid only once. This outcome would have a negative effect on quality, pendency, and efficiency of examination.
The PPAC would suggest smaller increases to IDS fees to avoid penalizing applicants whose late prior art submissions are unavoidable while continuing the certification requirement to deter intentional delays in disclosing prior art.
The proposal includes substantial increases to notice of appeal and appeal forwarding fees. A likely consequence is to discourage the invocation of the appeal procedures. However, the reversal rate statistics suggest that the procedure is more frequently invoked out of necessity rather than choice. It would be inappropriate to use a targeted fee increase to discourage what are often meritorious appeals.
The PPAC and, based on the tenor of the public comments, the stakeholder community are supportive of the adjustments to the fees for Inter Partes Review (IPR), Post-Grant Review (PGR) and Covered Business Method (CBM) review. Effectively filing and defending in these proceedings is realistically an expensive proposition irrespective of the USPTO’s fees. It is important that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) have sufficient resources to maintain a robust and timely process that fulfills the statutory mission of the AIA. However, there is room for further refinement in how fees are distributed through the process. One would think that there is more work for the PTAB post-institution and it would seem logical to impose a higher percentage of the fees at that point. It may also be sensible to subdivide the fees more finely (pay as you go) so that there might be savings if there is no oral argument or even a refund if a case settles. Mindful that some petitioners are small entities or individuals, the PPAC also suggests that the Office adopt a scaled petition fee schedule, perhaps based on the petitioner’s annual revenue. However, because this process is relatively new and still contains significant uncertainties, such as the percentage of cases that will settle and thus lower the back end costs, it may be necessary to raise the fees and wait for more data that permits more finely drawn costs assessment.
The PPAC, of course, recognizes the importance of having an effective process for ensuring compliance with the rules governing the Patent Bar. However, the PPAC is concerned about charging high fees to members of the Patent Bar who are subject to disciplinary proceedings when the outcome may well be exoneration after the facts are thoroughly vetted. It is not clear how the fee was set, how or when it would be assessed or even the rationale for the fee. The PPAC urges the USPTO to consider revising the proposal to at least allow for a refund of fees when the practitioner is ultimately found to be not at fault, or preferably by imposing the fee upon determination that disciplinary action is appropriate.
There is broad concern in the stakeholder community that the proposed design patent fees are excessive and will deter innovators from seeking design patent protection. Although the increases would ostensibly be justified by the USPTO’s stated costs, the PPAC would prefer the USPTO to intensify its focus on making the examination process more cost-efficient before imposing a fee increase of this magnitude.
More information is needed regarding the fee increases for the submission of mega-sequences, and whether the fees are to cover processing, storage or both. Understanding how the fees would be utilized would answer users’ questions and clarify the need for the increases. Although the PPAC understands that citation of a sequence is under the control of applicant, the public has questioned the current rules requiring all sequences to be included within the sequence listing.
Additionally, more information is requested on the costs and any implications to the examining process for a late submission of a Sequence Listing to better understand the creation of this fee.
Questions have been raised about the very high charges for copies of granted patents in the proposed fee schedule. Although this may be an infrequently utilized service, it would be beneficial to have more explanation of the apparently extremely high costs of providing it.
The efficacy of the US patent system depends largely on an adequately funded USPTO. An effective high quality large-scale examination system requires resources to train and maintain the knowledge of the Examiners, particularly at this time of evolving case law. For example, to promote high quality examination, the Office has been working to train examiners to rigorously and consistently apply section 112. This issue is critical to the quality of patents issued throughout the Office. Through the Enhanced Patent Quality Initiative, the USPTO has also proposed a number of ambitious initiatives, including a clarity of the record pilot, application of a Master Review Form in reviewing examination quality, and review of post-grant outcomes for application in prosecution. These require resources. But the real world consequences of inadequate application of the statutes and case law, including uncertain rights and unnecessary litigation, are far more expensive.
The USPTO must complete long overdue IT upgrades to provide the Examiners the right tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. Continued funding of the IT initiatives to complete key pieces of Patents End to End (PE2E), including a modernized search capability and replacement of antiquated systems utilized to track patent applications is essential. Furthermore, it is essential that the IT infrastructure be robust and secure.
The PTAB has become an important tool to ensure the quality of issued patents. Funding it appropriately is important to assure its effectiveness and credibility.
Quality and IT initiatives require sustained long-term funding to be successful. Given the variability and unpredictability of fee income as well as the continued possibility of interruptions to the Office’s access to collected fees, the PPAC appreciates the need for a robust operating reserve.
Although the need for adequate resources is clear, the public case for higher user fees would benefit from greater transparency around the Office’s ongoing efforts to prioritize expenditures, reduce inefficiencies or waste, and increase productivity. It would also be useful to understand the practical consequences of continuing the current fee structure. Because the USPTO is user funded and has raised fees several times over the past few years, it is important that it operate with transparency to allow users to understand that the fees are being properly assessed, and efficiently utilized.
But even appreciating the need for increased funding, the PPAC would prefer a different approach to selecting fees to increase. The Office’s proposal seeks to minimize the costs of entry to the patent examination system while raising costs at various points in the prosecution cycle such as RCE, late IDS submissions, and appeals. Raising these fees may be intended to have an incentivizing effect on the applicant community. However, a number of these actions are not necessarily under the control of the applicant. Additional prior art may be received in foreign prosecution necessitating an unexpected late IDS. Even with a good understanding of the prior art, the applicant may not know if the course of an examination will require an RCE or an appeal. Statistics evidence a non-uniform outcome of examination. Some Examiners have more RCEs filed than others in comparable arts, the pre-appeal and appeal conference statistics reveal a fair number of final rejections which are found to be non-sustainable, raising the costs and lengthening prosecution for those applicants. Furthermore, USPTO fees are but one component of the overall cost to the applicant, often being outweighed by patent practitioner fees, thereby attenuating the incentive. The practical effect on applicants of emphasizing mid-prosecution fees is to increase the uncertainty of the cost of obtaining a patent.
There are alternative approaches to fee setting that are not primarily focused on applicant incentives. One straightforward approach is to simply raise most fees across the board to the extent deemed necessary to achieve the needed revenue level. This approach does not target any behaviors and thus might be perceived as more fair. The IPR and PGR fee increases seem relatively uncontroversial and might be retained in this approach.
An alternative approach is to increase the front-end costs of filing, search, and examination, as well as issuance, rather than appeals, RCE, and other unforeseeable events. This approach may be in tension with the longstanding philosophy of encouraging entry into the patent system with lower front end costs. However, focusing the increase in fees on events that necessarily occur during the course of prosecution from filing to issuance, while limiting the increase in fees on unforeseeable events, is a possible option to distribute the fees across all applicants and perhaps mitigate against some of the current uncertainties.
The current proposal leaves maintenance fees undisturbed, an attractive feature to many stakeholders given their already high level, especially at the third stage. But there may be an opportunity to both increase revenue and decrease the controversial third stage fee by raising the maintenance fees at the first two stages, or alternatively only the second stage maintenance fee. The maintenance fee distribution has remained unchanged in recent decades even while the mix of patented technologies with associated disparate value profiles over time has changed. For example, a software patent may experience its peak value early in its term whereas a pharmaceutical patent for an approved drug will often remain very valuable at the end of the term. A reevaluation of the maintenance fees for each stage may be appropriate.
In the long run, however, maintenance fee income may be negatively impacted as the changing legal environment limits patent grants or further contribute to uncertainty about already granted patents in certain fields of technologies. If this occurs, it may become necessary to increase fees in the early stages of prosecution, essentially ending the approach of back-loading fees to encourage easier entry into the system.
The PPAC agrees that an overall increase in fees is necessary at this time to improve quality, complete the long overdue modernization of the IT infrastructure, and make up for the shortfall in revenues due to lower than expected filings experienced in 2015. However, the USPTO should continue to identify and implement cost-cutting initiatives to maintain its status as an efficient and well-run organization.
The PPAC views the biennial fee review process as invaluable. The USPTO is in the best position to assess its funding needs and to set fees accordingly. The current fee-setting authority with the requirement for public notice and public comment, along with the review and report from the PPAC provides a robust mechanism for the review of and regulator to the resulting fees. To better provide the USPTO with the flexibility needed to permit regular reviews and modifications of their fees and ensure a steady revenue stream to fund the world class patent office, the PPAC recommends that the USPTO’s fee setting authority be extended beyond 2018 and made permanent.
The PPAC appreciates the hard work and thorough analysis of the USPTO staff in preparing the new fee adjustment proposal. Meeting the USPTO’s funding needs is critical for our innovation system and our Nation’s economy. We hope that this report is beneficial in refining the proposal and thereby supporting a successful US patent system.
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 338|
|Trademark Public Advisory Committee Annual Report 2016|
TRADEMARK PUBLIC ADVISORY COMMITTEE
|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|B.||Extending the Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program ("TEAPP").|
|C.||IT and E-Government Issues.|
|D.||Maintaining Adequate Funding/Reserves for the Agency.|
|E.||Enterprise Services Proposal.|
|F.||Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.|
|III.||Discussion of Specific Issues.|
|A.||Trademark Operations Performance.|
|2.||Quality and Training.|
|3.||Initiatives Completed in FY 2016.|
|B.||IT and E-Government Issues.|
|1.||Trademarks Next Generation.|
|C.||Budget and Funding Issues.|
|2.||Impact of 2015 Fee Reduction.|
|3.||Financial Advisory Board.|
|4.||Fees Study and Fee Increase.|
|5.||Direct v. Indirect Spending.|
|6.||Spending in Trademarks for Trademark Information Technology.|
|7.||Enterprise Services (formerly Shared Services) with the DOC.|
|D.||Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.|
|1.||Changes to TTAB Rules of Practice.|
|2.||Changes to TTAB Fees.|
|3.||Changes to Standard Protective Order.|
|1.||Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attaché Program.|
|2.||Madrid Protocol Updates.|
|3.||WIPO Standing Committee on Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications ("SCT").|
This is the seventeenth annual report of the Trademark Public Advisory Committee (“TPAC”). This report reviews the trademark operations of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO” or “Office”) for the Fiscal Year (“FY”) ending September 30, 2016. The TPAC’s mission, which is specified in enabling legislation, 35 U.S.C. § 5(b)(1) and (d)(1), is “to represent the interests of diverse users” of the USPTO and to “review the policies, goals, performance, budget, and user fees” of the USPTO with respect to trademarks.
Pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 5(d)(2), this report is submitted within 60 days following the end of the federal fiscal year (“FY”) and is transmitted to the President, the Secretary of Commerce and the Committees on the Judiciary of the Senate and the House of Representatives. This report is submitted for publication in the Official Gazette of the USPTO. The report will be available to the public on the USPTO website, www.uspto.gov.
Members of the TPAC. As of the end of FY 2016, the following individuals were members of the TPAC:
|●||Anne H. Chasser, Senior Advisor, Dot Brand 360, Cincinnati Ohio (term ends December 6, 2016)|
|●||Deborah A. Hampton, Trademark Corporate Specialist, Trademark Team Lead, The Chemours Company FC, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware (term ends December 6, 2016)|
|●||William G. Barber (Vice Chair), Member, Pirkey Barber PLLC, Austin, Texas (term ends December 6, 2016)|
|●||Jody Haller Drake, Partner, Sughrue Mion, LLC, Washington, D.C. (term ends December 6, 2017)|
|●||Timothy J. Lockhart, Partner, Wilcox & Savage, P.C., Norfolk, Virginia (term ends December 6, 2017)|
|●||Jonathan Hudis, Partner, Quarles & Brady LLP, Washington, D.C. (term ends December 6, 2017)|
|●||Lisa A. Dunner, Managing Partner, Dunner Law PLLC, Washington, D.C. (term ends December 6, 2018)|
|●||Mei-lan Stark, Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel Intellectual Property, NBCUniversal Media, LLC, Universal City, California (term ends December 6, 2018)|
|●||Dee Ann Weldon-Wilson (Chair), Trademark Counsel, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Houston, Texas (term ends December 6, 2018)|
|In addition to the above voting Members, the following people are non-voting TPAC members representing the membership of USPTO unions:|
|●||Harold Ross of the National Treasury Employees Union (“NTEU”) Chapter 243|
|●||Howard Friedman of NTEU Chapter 245|
|●||Tamara Kyle of the Patent Office Professional Association|
Trademark Operations continued to meet or exceed performance goals during FY 2016. Meeting and exceeding these goals demonstrates not only the smooth running of Trademark Operations but also the high level of service provided to the users of the USPTO. The TPAC recognizes this outstanding achievement and commends Trademark Operations for consistently executing at such a high level.
During this period, the USPTO published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) on certain trademark fees to better align fees with actual costs; protect the integrity of the register; incentivize more timely filing or examination of filings and more efficient resolution of appeals and trials; and promote the efficiency of the process though lower-cost electronic filing options.
Although Mary Boney Denison was appointed Commissioner for Trademarks effective January 1, 2015, FY 2016 was Commissioner Denison’s first full year leading Trademark Operations. The results reflect that Commissioner Denison and her team were able to make a seamless transition and lead the organization successfully through rules proposals, snow days, power outages, and other changes and challenges.
|B.||Extending the Telework Enhancement Act Pilot Program (“TEAPP”).|
The TEAPP program has been successful, particularly in Trademarks. There are 95 trademark employees in 29 different states participating in the TEAPP. At the end of April 2016, Director Lee announced the expansion of TEAPP to Puerto Rico for interested and eligible employees. The program has helped the USPTO recruit and retain employees drawn to the USPTO’s strong reputation for workplace flexibilities that help balance the pace of everyday life with the demands of working to enhance and protect trademarks in the global marketplace. The Agency was afforded flexibility in the federal travel regulations, but that expires at the end of 2017. The current flexibility under the program allows telework without requiring employees to return to the Alexandria campus regularly. The USPTO is talking with the Hill on the advantages of that flexibility and possible extensions of that program, and we encourage the new Administration to assist the USPTO in those efforts.
|C.||IT and E-Government Issues.|
The Office of the Chief Information Office (“OCIO”) continues to focus on the design and deployment of a new, integrated IT system for Trademarks, known as Trademarks Next Generation (“TMNG”). The TPAC continues to be concerned about the delays in the development and implementation of TMNG, as well as the cost, which is significantly higher than originally anticipated. The TPAC plans to continue to monitor the significant investment of user fees in IT systems, as well as the difficulties or delays in deployment. The TPAC appreciates the continued assistance and cooperation of the OCIO in providing regular updates and information, as well as their continued cooperation with Trademark Operations on the planning, development and deployment of TMNG. The TPAC recognizes that the legacy systems need to be replaced and that there are many complexities involved in such a replacement. We continue to encourage all parties to be attentive to the return that customers are getting for the investment of user fees in the TMNG and the IT systems generally.
|D.||Maintaining Adequate Funding/Reserves for the Agency.|
As a user-fee-funded agency that is vital to our nation’s economic prosperity and development, we continue to strongly support giving the USPTO full access to its funds and removing the USPTO from the Congressional appropriations and authorization process. The TPAC recognizes that adequate funding of the USPTO is critical to its goals of examining and issuing quality patents and trademark registrations in a timely manner, and it is essential that the USPTO (a completely user-funded agency) has the ability to retain and spend all of the fees it collects from its users. Although the Operating Reserve is consistent with the policy of four months operating expenses in the reserve, a stronger six-month operating reserve is highly recommended.
|E.||Enterprise Services Proposal.|
The USPTO has been participating in a working group with the Department of Commerce (“DOC”) on its shared services project known as “Enterprise Services.” The objective of the project is to ensure that all DOC bureaus have access to high quality mission support services in the core areas of human resources, acquisition, financial management and information technology. As the second largest bureau within the DOC and due to its specialized technical needs, the USPTO has made a significant investment in each of those areas over the years. To date, no commitments have been made for the USPTO to acquire services under this project.
The TPAC supports in principle efforts to identify ways to improve internal services and reduce costs. However, while the DOC and its bureaus are funded through tax revenues, the USPTO is funded entirely through user fees paid by trademark owners and inventors to protect their brands and innovations. For this reason, the TPAC believes it is critical to monitor closely any possible diversion of user fees to general DOC functions.
|F.||Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.|
The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) met or exceeded its performance goals for FY 2016. Under the experienced leadership of Chief Administrative Trademark Judge Gerard F. Rogers, the TTAB maintained pendency of cases within its target ranges. The TPAC commends the TTAB for announcing its performance goals and providing periodic updates on performance which assists customers in anticipating time frames and tracking their own cases. The TPAC also appreciates the thoughtful and inclusive process the TTAB used in developing the changes to TTAB Rules of Practice that will take effect on January 14, 2017.
The USPTO is involved in a number of international organizations, as well as international initiatives, and programs. The U.S. IP Attaché Program is directed to the improvement and enforcement of IP laws for the benefit of U.S. stakeholders. IP attachés currently serve in 11 countries. The TPAC believes that this program is important to advancing harmonization of IP rights and supporting the protection and enforcement of these rights of U.S. businesses abroad. The program is funded based on fee allocation. The TPAC is pleased that the Office now tracks the attachés’ time allocation by category (trademarks, patents, copyrights, and other), rather than just reporting on major initiatives. Under this method, the trademark fees used for the Attaché Program more accurately reflect the work being done on trademark issues.
|III.||Discussion of Specific Issues.|
|A.||Trademark Operations Performance.|
FY 2016 was a particularly successful year for the USPTO’s Trademark Operations. Once again, it met or exceeded all performance targets.
Increase in Applications. Trademark application filings increased by 5.2% for FY 2016, which was 1.6% less than Trademark Operations originally projected. Trademark Operations initially estimated it would receive 539,000 classes for registration in FY 2016. Midyear, the expected filings was revised to 533,000 classes. The actual number of classes filed was 530,270. Trademark Operations received fewer 66(a) filings than anticipated due, in part, to a new IT system implemented at the World Intellectual Property Organization (“WIPO”) in April. WIPO continues to send fewer files each week than expected. Trademark Operations is monitoring WIPO’s situation to assist it in future planning.
It should be noted that filings have increased 22% over the last four years, and filings have doubled over the past 14 years from 2003 to 2016.
Applications Submitted Electronically. Trademark Operations’ original goal was to have all trademark applications submitted electronically. Great progress has been made; currently 99.7% of all applications are submitted electronically. Given this progress, the goal has now shifted to encouraging two-way electronic communication throughout the entire registration process. Once again, Trademark Operations has exceeded their goal with 84.8% of applications handled electronically end-to-end. One reason for the increase was the January 2015 introduction of the Trademark Electronic Application System (“TEAS”) Reduced Fees—TEAS RF—which continues to be used for 50% of the classes filed, and a reduction in the fee for filing TEAS Plus, which accounts for 36% of classes filed.
Balanced Disposals Exceeded Projections. Despite the significant increase in application filings, the Office exceeded its productivity targets for Balanced Disposals of 1,051,822, with 1,061,055 Balanced Disposals in FY 2016. A Balanced Disposal occurs when either (1) a First Office Action issues; (2) the application is approved for publication; or (3) the application is abandoned.
Total Office Disposals Higher. Total Office Disposals, which refers to the number of applications that resulted in either registration or abandonment, were higher than in FY 2015. In FY 2016, there were 479,657 Total Office Disposals, down 7.9% from projections.
Average First-Action Pendency in Target Range. The Average First Action Pendency continued to remain within the target range of 2.5 to 3.5 months, coming in at 3.1 months for FY 2016. First Action Pendency is the time between the filing of a trademark application and the substantive review of that application by the USPTO, which typically results in either a Notice of Publication or a first Office Action. The range that Trademark Operations maintains represents a balance of an appropriate pipeline of work for the Examining Attorney corps with a predictable and fast response time for the customers of the Office. The TPAC has supported this range for several years, and we applaud the Office for continuing to meet this range, as it has done for many years.
Average Total Pendency Down. Trademark Operations exceeded its target goals on Average Total Pendency for FY 2016. Average Total Pendency, the average time between the filing of a trademark application and the final disposition of that application (through registration, abandonment, or issuance of a Notice of Allowance), continued to remain quite low, and in fact, Average Total Pendency was 9.8 months, if suspended or inter partes cases are excluded, and 11.3 months if those cases are included. (An application is suspended in cases where the outcome of another matter must be determined before further action on the application can be taken. This can occur if there is a previously-filed application still under examination. An inter partes case is where there is an opposition or cancellation proceeding before the TTAB.) Both of these numbers are down from FY 2015 in which the numbers were 10.1 months and 11.5 months, respectively. These remarkable results are attributable in part to the greater adoption of electronic filing through TEAS Plus and TEAS RF, which together make up almost 90% of new filings. Two-way electronic filing and communication engenders more cost-effective processing, and now comprises 84.8% of all applications processed to disposal, slightly exceeding the Office’s target of 82%. The TPAC commends the progress made and continues to support the Office’s goal of increasing the percentage of trademark applications that are processed electronically from end-to-end.
Overall. Once again, during FY 2016 Trademark Operations substantially met or exceeded all of its performance goals. The TPAC commends Commissioner Denison for her leadership, making these results possible. Commissioner Denison and Trademark Operations continue to perform at a high level in all respects. Commissioner Denison continued leading a talented staff dedicated to providing efficient, fast and reliable service to its customers. Most importantly, these consistently excellent results would not be possible without hard work from the hundreds of employees in Trademark Operations, who all contribute to providing service to customers in a complex and dynamic system.
|2.||Quality and Training.|
As important as the quantitative measures discussed above are to Trademark Operations, of even greater value to the public is the high quality with which work is done so that the Trademark Register is an accurate reflection of the important substantive trademark rights owned by its customers. Once again, the USPTO has met or exceeded aggressive targets, surmounting last year’s outstanding results.
Compliance Rate. Examination quality is measured by evaluating random samples of applications at two different points during the examination process. This measurement is known as the compliance rate, or percentage of actions or decisions that have been determined to have been made correctly, with no deficiencies or errors. The first point of review looks at initial Office Actions that reject applications for registration or raise other issues regarding formalities that require correction to the application. The second point of review takes place at “final disposition” of an application, either by a final refusal to register or a decision to approve the application for publication. The goal at both points is to determine whether the Examining Attorneys’ decisions and written Office Actions comport with the bases of refusals under the Lanham Act. The goal for FY 2016 was a compliance rate of 95.5% for the First Office Action, and a rate of 97% for final compliance. For each of those targets, the Office exceeded both the FY 2015’s results as well as the targets established for FY 2016. For First Office Action, the compliance rate was 97.1%, which is 1.7% above target, and for final compliance, the rate was 97.8%, exceeding the target by 0.8%.
Exceptional Office Action Standard. The Exceptional Office Action is a standard with the following four criteria: the appropriateness of the likelihood of confusion search, the quality of the evidence provided, the clarity of the writing, and the quality of the decision making. In FY 2016, Trademark Operations far exceeded the goal of 40%, with 45.4% of office actions meeting the criteria established.
Training Law Offices 120, 121 and 122. Starting with the formation of Law Office 120, these classes of new Examining Attorneys were placed in one law office, rather than dispersing new Examining Attorneys among existing Law Offices. The Office continues that practice of training new Examining Attorneys in one Law Office. The Office is also hiring Examining Attorneys to backfill other Law Offices.
Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (“TMEP”) Training. This training provided an overview of the changes to trademark examination legal policy in the October 2015 update of the TMEP, as well as changes to the U.S. Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual (“ID Manual”). Also included were summaries of certain recent precedential opinions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and a discussion of how to apply the precedents in the examination of trademark applications.
Nice Classification Training. This training highlighted the goods or services added to the Nice Classification as of December 24, 2015, and the changes in classification to existing entries that became effective January 1, 2016. The presentation also included a demonstration of the advanced search features of the USPTO’s next generation on-line electronic ID Manual.
Industry Training. There was training focused on two industry groups: the U.S. Beer and Craft Beer Industries and the Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products and Cosmetics Industries. During the U.S. Beer and Craft Beer Industries training, legal experts provided an overview of the new and evolving trademark issues facing the beer industries, with specific discussion concerning: (1) the rise in trademark disputes caused by the dramatic increase in the number of beer-related trademark filings; (2) interstate commerce issues raised by local and regional craft brew goods and brew pub services; (3) issues caused by the high number of unregistered marks in the beer field because of the large number of one-off seasonal craft beers and regional craft brewers; and (4) the prevalence and use of non-traditional marks in the beer industry. The Pharmaceuticals, Personal Care Products and Cosmetics Industries event sponsored by the International Trademark Association (“INTA”) featured a panel of legal experts who discussed trademark issues created by innovation in the consumer health care products field, the development of pharmaceutical trademarks, and issues faced by providers in these fields when applying for, and maintaining, federal trademark protection in the United States.
3D Printing Seminar. The use of three-dimensional printing technology is becoming prevalent and increasingly less expensive. There are many facets of intellectual property that will be affected by this technology, including trademarks. Employees were treated to a seminar exploring what 3D printing is and what it means for us both now and in the future.
TORCH Training Day Event. On April 12-13, 2016, Trademark Operations held a training event known as TORCH (Trademark Organization Reconnection and Collaboration Homecoming). All employees were required to come to the Alexandria campus for a day of training on customer service issues, collaboration tools, and substantive examination issues.
Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit Case (“CAFC”) Update, and TMEP Review. Staff were provided with a review of recent precedential cases from the CAFC, as well as highlights of TMEP updates.
TMNG ID Manual Training. Staff were trained on the use of the new version of the ID/Class Manual accessed through the TMNG interface.
Power Outage. On December 22, 2015, the USPTO experienced a major power outage. Full operations were resumed after six days. All damaged equipment has been replaced. Although this was not an IT issue, there was an impact on IT and, therefore, this issue is also addressed in Section B—IT and E-Government Issues.
Snow Event in the Washington, D.C. Area. During the January 22-28, 2016, snow storm in the Washington, D.C. area, more than 8,600 USPTO workers were able to telework and, at peak times, 77% of the total USPTO workforce was teleworking. Despite the weather and closings, Examining Attorneys accomplished over 90% of the work normally completed on comparable days.
|3.||Initiatives Completed in FY 2016.|
TMEP Updates. The USPTO issued updates to the TMEP in October 2015 and April 2016. The TMEP represents a valuable resource, both for applicants and for Examining Attorneys, and the TPAC commends Trademark Operations for providing ongoing and regular updates to the TMEP.
Examination Guides. Between updates to the TMEP, the Office occasionally provides guidance on specific issues through the issuance of an Examination Guide. Typically, Examination Guides supersede the current edition of the TMEP to the extent any inconsistency exists and the guidance contained is usually incorporated into the next edition of the TMEP. In March 2016, an Examination Guide was issued regarding examination of applications for compliance with Section 2(a)’s scandalous and disparagement provisions. Both provisions are the subject of active court litigation involving their constitutionality. The Guide addresses the procedures for examining pending applications involving marks subject to refusal under these provisions while the constitutionality of these provisions remains in question and subject to potential Supreme Court review.
ID Manual Enhancements. The ID Manual lists identifications of goods or services and their respective classifications that Examining Attorneys will accept without further inquiry if the specimens of record support the identification and classification. Although the listing of acceptable identifications is not exhaustive, it serves as a guide to Examining Attorneys and to those preparing trademark applications, on what constitutes a sufficiently “definite” identification. Failure to appropriately list the goods or services with which a mark is used can prevent registration so the ID Manual is an invaluable tool.
Enhancements to the Trademarks Next Generation ID Manual. In February 2016, the USPTO announced the implementation of the “Broadcast Messaging” functionality to the Trademarks Next Generation Trademark Manual of Identification and Classification of Goods and Services, available at https://tmidm.uspto.gov/. In June 2016, the USPTO announced that the legacy Trademark ID Manual would soon be retired. The USPTO requested additional direct customer input and feedback concerning the Next Generation ID Manual.
Nice Classification Changes. On January 1, 2016, the Tenth Edition of the Nice Classification, version 2016, came into force. These changes had an impact on the USPTO’s examination policy and examination practice. A complete list of those changes can be found by setting the “Effective Date” field in the Next Generation ID Manual to the Operator “=” then typing the date “01/01/2016” and pressing the “Search” button.
TEAS Enhancements. In December 2015, the ID Manual search function within TEAS initial application forms was enhanced to display the search results in a table according to the relevance of the searched term(s) as determined by an algorithm. For example, the search table for a search of the term shoes will list “Shoes” in Class 25, an “exact match” first because it is the most relevant description containing only the searched term. A search of two terms, e.g., athletic shoes, will display an exact match first, followed by other results with both terms, if any. Additionally, the forms were updated to allow for military addresses in address fields.
New Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Administration. Trademark Operations created a new position, Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Administration, to oversee technology, finance, and strategic planning. In June 2016, Greg Dodson, a retired Air Force colonel and fighter pilot, was hired to fill that position. Deputy Commissioner Dodson is highly qualified to lead Trademark Operations in these critical areas, having received a B.S. in Management Information Systems, an M.S. in National Resource Strategy and an M.Ed. in International Relations, and having served as an experienced senior leader in both the military and private employment. The TPAC enthusiastically welcomes Deputy Commissioner Dodson to the Office.
Notices of Proposed Rulemaking. In FY 2016, Trademark Operations issued two NPRMs.
Trademark Fee Adjustment. On May 27, 2016, the USPTO published an NPRM to set or increase certain trademark fees as authorized by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”). The adjusted fees will allow the Office to recover the aggregate estimated cost of TTAB operations and USPTO administrative services that support Trademark Operations. According to the USPTO, the proposals will further its strategic objectives by: (1) better aligning fees with the full cost of products and services; (2) protecting the integrity of the register by incentivizing more timely filing or examination of applications and other filings and more efficient resolution of appeals and trials; and (3) promoting the efficiency of the process in large part through lower-cost electronic filing options. The comment period ended July 11, 2016. The USPTO reviewed the comments received and issued a Notice of Final Rulemaking (“NFRM”) on October 21, 2016. The new fees will become effective January 14, 2017.
Changes in Requirements for Affidavits or Declarations of Use, Continued Use, or Excusable Nonuse in Trademark Cases. On June 22, 2016, the USPTO published an NPRM to amend its rules concerning the examination of affidavits or declarations of continued use or excusable nonuse filed pursuant to section 8 or affidavits or declarations of use filed pursuant to section 71. Specifically, the USPTO proposes to require the submission of information, exhibits, affidavits or declarations, and such additional specimens of use as may be reasonably necessary, for the USPTO to ensure that the register accurately reflects marks that are in use in the United States for all the goods or services identified in the registrations unless excusable nonuse is claimed in whole or in part. The comment period for the proposed rulemaking ended August 22, 2016.
Efforts to Improve the Accuracy of Identifications of Goods or Services in Registrations. In FY 2015, Trademark Operations concluded its pilot program, in which 500 randomly-selected registrations were reviewed, to test whether registrants could support claims of use on multiple goods or services. The statistics from the pilot supported implementing ongoing measures to improve the accuracy and integrity of the Trademark Register as to the actual use of marks with the goods or services included in registrations. To that end, the USPTO is taking steps to implement proposals to increase the solemnity of the declaration filed with Section 8 and 71 Affidavits and to institutionalize random audits of Section 8 and 71 Declarations of Use.
In response to the recommendation regarding declarations, the USPTO evaluated the declaration language in the post-registration and other use-related forms and concluded that the issue is not the solemnity of the declaration language, but instead that signatories may not be carefully reading and appreciating the significance of the attestations they are making. The USPTO believed that the prior formatting of the declaration paragraphs did not promote sufficient reflection on the language by the signatory before he or she signs a document. Therefore, the USPTO decided to reformat the verified statements made in connection with applications and allegations of use, in addition to those required for post-registration affidavits, to separate out the clauses to improve readability and to require the signatory to check a box next to each statement in order to validate an electronic submission. In addition, the updated forms include an explicit statement reiterating what is already required pursuant to 37 C.F.R. § 11.18(b) of all signatories of documents submitted to the USPTO. The USPTO believes that requiring signatories to focus on the declaration language best achieves the goal of increasing the signatory’s appreciation of the solemnity of the statements he or she is making. Reformatting the statements and requiring applicants and registrants to check a box indicating that he or she has read each statement in order to validate an electronic submission will encourage accuracy in the identification of goods or services/collective membership organizations for which use or continued use is claimed. The USPTO posted the declarations for comment on the IdeaScale® online collaboration tool on July 28, 2016, and the comment period ended August 28, 2016. The USPTO is in the process of implementing these new forms.
As noted above, the USPTO also published an NPRM concerning the examination of affidavits or declarations of continued use or excusable nonuse filed pursuant to section 8 or affidavits or declarations of use filed pursuant to section 71. The proposed rules will allow the USPTO to require additional proof of use to verify the accuracy of claims that a trademark is in use in connection with particular goods or services identified in the registration. The comment period for the proposed rulemaking ended August 22, 2016.
Pilot on Amending Goods or Services to Reflect Evolving Technology. On September 1, 2015, the USPTO commenced a pilot program to allow, under limited circumstances, amendments to identifications of goods or services in trademark registrations that would otherwise be beyond the scope of the current identification. Amendments may be permitted where they are deemed necessary because evolving technology has changed the manner or medium by which the underlying content or subject matter of the identified goods or services are offered for sale or provided to consumers. This piloted change in trademark practice takes into account the policy goal of preserving trademark registrations in situations where technology in an industry has evolved in such a way that amendment of the goods or services in question would not generate a public-notice problem. The duration of the pilot will depend on the volume of requests. The USPTO posted on its website the requirements for seeking such amendments as well as a non-exhaustive list of acceptable amendments under the new practice, along with a sample declaration - http://www.uspto.gov/trademark/trademark-updates-and-announcements/recent-postings. These materials will be updated periodically as amendments are permitted. At the conclusion of the pilot period, the Office will assess whether such amendments should be permitted on a permanent basis and, if so, whether modified guidelines are appropriate. Since September 1, 2015, 70 petitions have been filed under the pilot program. Of the 70 petitions filed, 28 have been granted, 15 have been dismissed on procedural grounds, 12 have recently been published for public comment, but no decision has issued, and two petitions have been denied for failure to respond.
|B.||IT and E-Government Issues.|
|1.||Trademarks Next Generation.|
Overview. In 2009, the then-Director of the USPTO proposed a new trademark-processing system to be called “Trademarks Next Generation,” or “TMNG.” This cloud-based system will replace the patchwork of legacy trademark application forms and databases that are, in some cases, intertwined with non-trademark IT resources; operate in relatively old and therefore outdated software environments; and pose considerable challenges in terms of efficiency, maintenance, support and reliability. When complete, this system should allow seamless, end-to-end electronic processing of trademark applications, including appeals to the TTAB of refusals to register, and trademark registration maintenance, both for USPTO Examining Attorneys and support staff and for trademark owners and practitioners.
Delay and Increased Cost. Some portions of TMNG have been developed and implemented, but much of the system is still under development, and some major parts of it have not yet entered the development process. The original development timeline of 18 months was, in hindsight, unrealistic, and the size and scope of TMNG have grown considerably since the system was proposed in 2009. The USPTO now projects that full implementation of all phases of TMNG will not be finished until at least FY 2019—eight years after conceptual work on the system began in 2011. However, in the TPAC’s FY 2015 Annual Report, we noted that the OCIO had expressed a high degree of confidence that TMNG would essentially be in place no later than the end of FY 2017. In that report, the TPAC noted that in its view “delaying the full implementation of TMNG beyond [FY 2017] would be and should be unacceptable.”
Given the considerable investment in time, effort, and human resources already made and still to be made in TMNG, the USPTO has understandably accepted the additional delay required to complete the project. However, the long—and now longer—delay in completing TMNG has been a source of considerable frustration both inside and outside the USPTO. Moreover, the delay has contributed to the escalating cost of TMNG which has now grown by approximately four times: from the 2011 estimate of $53 million (including the TTAB portion of TMNG) to the current estimate of $202 million through the end of FY 2018 (not including the TTAB portion, which is now being re-estimated). Although it is more important to see the project through to completion as soon as possible rather than focus on the causes of the delay, the TPAC strongly recommends (as discussed more fully in subsection d) that the USPTO consider preparing a “lessons learned” document to avoid this sort of problem with any future development of large IT systems.
Phases of the Project. The OCIO is primarily responsible for developing and implementing TMNG. However, Trademark Operations plays a major role, both by developing and giving input on what the new system should be able to do and how it should function, and by beta-testing the system’s various components as they are introduced and then providing feedback on the problems and shortfalls revealed by the testing.
To make the size and scope of this complex project more manageable, the OCIO has, since the first year or two of the project, divided the development and deployment of TMNG into four interlinked phases that overlap from fiscal year to fiscal year. The end dates of the phases have been extended since the TPAC’s FY 2015 Annual Report. The four phases are:
FY 2011-FY 2015. The “TMNG” Phase. This phase focused on the design and development of capabilities for Examining Attorneys and on building the TMNG infrastructure and framework.
FY 2015-FY 2019. The “TMNG-2” Phase. This follow-on phase focuses on completing the development and deployment of capabilities for Examining Attorneys and other personnel working in Trademark Operations. Such capabilities include, but are not limited to, the comprehensive “Examiner Tool” for examining trademark applications, conducting the research required for such examination, and preparing Office Actions. When deployed throughout Trademark Operations, the Examiner Tool will allow retirement of the legacy system FAST-1 (from “First Action System for Trademarks-1”). Beta-testing of the Examiner Tool began early in FY 2016 and, as discussed below in “Current Status,” continues. As noted above, this phase also includes delivery of a number of non-examination internal capabilities and components.
FY 2013-FY 2018. The “TMNG-External” Phase. This phase, separate from the TMNG and TMNG-2 Phases, focuses on developing capabilities for external users that will be built on the same platform and database used by Examining Attorneys. Completed capabilities include the electronic Official Gazette (“eOG”) and the ID Manual of Acceptable Goods and Services. A forthcoming capability will be “eFile,” the replacement for both the TEAS and the Electronic System for Trademark Trials and Appeals (“ESTTA”).
FY 2019 (and Possibly Beyond). The “Trademark Trial and Appeal Board” Phase. This phase will focus on designing and developing appeal, opposition, and cancellation-related capabilities for internal and external users that will replace the separate systems currently utilized by the TTAB.
Current Status of the TMNG Examiner Tool. A year ago the OCIO planned to begin beta-testing the TMNG Examiner Tool during the first quarter of FY 2016 and to begin rolling the tool out to all of Trademark Operations during the second quarter of FY 2016. Beta-testing began later than projected and, as expected, revealed a number of deficiencies in the Examiner Tool. Some of the deficiencies were sufficiently serious that in July 2016 the Chief of the OCIO publicly characterized them as “show-stoppers” that would likely delay the scheduled rollout of the Examiner Tool.
Trademark Operations had planned for Law Office 122, consisting entirely of newly hired Examining Attorneys, to be trained to do most of their work with the new Examiner Tool, both as part of beta-testing it and as part of rolling it out to Examining Attorneys. However, because the beta-testing was compromising Trademark Operations’ ability to train the new Examining Attorneys and measure their work efficiently, Law Office 122 personnel were also trained on FAST-1, the legacy tool. Although, given the circumstances, the TPAC concurs with that approach, having to train Law Office 122 personnel on the legacy system was obviously a significant setback in the deployment of the Examiner Tool and therefore of TMNG as a whole.
The USPTO has reported to TPAC that “[t]o properly beta test and implement TMNG to examining attorneys[,] there will need to be some sacrifices to production operations. It is expected that the USPTO will work to minimize the slips in the production goals while maintaining the high level of quality.”
OCIO Staffing and Hiring. For a variety of reasons related to federal government hiring procedures, public-sector salaries versus private-sector salaries, and other factors, the OCIO has had difficulty in the past filling all of its IT job vacancies. According to the OCIO, that difficulty, although not the only factor, has contributed to the delay in the development and implementation of TMNG.
However, the OCIO reports that to address this problem, the OCIO focused in FY 2016 on hiring people to fill its IT positions that support the TMNG project. The consequence is that unfilled trademark-focused positions within the OCIO are apparently no longer, at least for the present, contributing to the delay of TMNG. TPAC commends the OCIO’s helpful efforts and positive results in this area and encourages the OCIO to continue to monitor the situation and report to the Office and to TPAC if, for any reason, staffing shortfalls cause similar problems in the future.
Budget Planning and Tracking. As noted above, the projected cost of TMNG has grown significantly since the project was announced. To enable the TPAC to monitor the TMNG costs more effectively, the TPAC’s IT Subcommittee has begun to coordinate more closely with the TPAC’s Budget and Finance Subcommittee. At least one member of each of these subcommittees attends the in-person meetings of the other subcommittee. The results of this process have provided all members of the TPAC with more insight into how the USPTO funds its IT systems and programs and how much “bang for the buck” the OCIO is getting from the continually increasing investment into TMNG.
In an initiative that has been helpful in furthering the foregoing coordination efforts, in April 2016 the USPTO began sharing with the TPAC various reports that the USPTO routinely produces to monitor and manage spending on IT projects as part of its legally mandated “Capital Planning and Investment Control” (“CPIC”) process. That process includes investment management reviews for both TMNG-2 and TMNG-External conducted by the IT Investment Review Board, which meets about once a quarter, and the CPIC Review Board, which meets monthly. The reports themselves are annual updates of the USPTO’s “Capital Investment Decision Paper” and reports produced in connection with quarterly “In-Room Reviews.”
The TPAC has found those reports to be more comprehensive and detailed than the monthly IT/TMNG summary that the USPTO previously produced solely for TPAC members. Because the reports are the actual documents that the USPTO uses to manage its IT spending, the TPAC’s use of the same documents literally puts the TPAC and the USPTO “on the same page” with respect to those management tools. And the TPAC’s use of those reports in lieu of the monthly IT/TMNG summary eliminates the need for the USPTO to produce a separate report for the TPAC that the USPTO itself does not use. The TPAC commends the USPTO for taking this initiative, which, although it is still quite recent, the TPAC believes will be of considerable value to its advisory efforts.
Additional information about the TPAC’s monitoring of budget issues at the USPTO appears below in Section C of this report.
Accomplishments in FY 2016 and Plans for FY 2017. The following bullet points summarize the OCIO’s accomplishments in FY 2016 and its plans for FY 2017 with respect to TMNG and Trademark Operations’ legacy systems:
Electronic examination and registration of trademark applications:
TMNG Electronic Official Gazette (“TMOG”)
Deployed TMOG features to produce .pdf files for registration certificates and updated registration certificates;
Deployed enhancements to automate system flags and modified text editor based on users feedback; and
Demonstrated limited disaster recovery capabilities for TMOG to minimize downtime for outages.
TMNG ID Manual
Deployed TMNG ID Manual features based on user feedback and transitioned from beta into full production.
Continued to define the business requirements and wireframes for TMNG eFile (the eventual replacement for both TEAS and ESTTA):
Deploy TMNG examination capabilities to Law Offices:
Define, develop, and deploy TMNG-Madrid capabilities—continuing through FY 2017;
Define, develop, and deploy TMNG-Petitions capabilities—continuing through FY 2017; and
Implement TMNG disaster recovery capabilities in FY 2017.
Develop and deploy electronic filing capabilities in FY 2018.
Develop and deploy trademark-processing and TTAB updates to reflect statutory changes (FY 2017); and
Develop and deploy Madrid enhancements to reflect document identification “digit” increase from 9 to 10, style-sheet changes, additional U.S. state and Armed Forces base codes, update of “death notice” routing, and addition of special characters to various components (FY 2017).
Timeline for Completion. Despite a strong desire at the USPTO to deploy the TMNG Examiner Tool to all Examining Attorneys by the end of calendar year 2016 or, at the latest, January 2017, the OCIO and trademark senior management has publicly committed not to begin full deployment of the tool prematurely. In July 2016 the Chief of the OCIO publicly stated that he “want[s] a good, solid product and those [show-stopping deficiencies] gone before we ship.” The TPAC commends the OCIO for taking that position and agrees that it is the right approach. Although the TPAC certainly recognizes—and shares—the common desire of all stakeholders, both internal and external, to see TMNG move forward as quickly as possible, successful deployment of the Examiner Tool is too important a goal to be deployed before it is fully ready, including implementing changes learned from beta-testing.
Once the highest TMNG priority—the Examiner Tool—has been deployed, the OCIO plans to focus more on the TMNG External Phase and the TTAB Phase than it has been able to do thus far. The TPAC looks forward to seeing further TMNG development in those important areas.
Lessons Learned. Although, as noted above, some TMNG capabilities have been implemented, the bulk of the system remains—seven years after the system was announced and five years after work on it began—yet to be delivered. It now appears possible that completion of the project will require until FY 2019 or perhaps even longer and entail the expenditure of more than four times the cost originally projected.
The TPAC recognizes that there are several reasons for this situation and that no one USPTO component is wholly responsible for it. However, the TPAC believes that it would be worthwhile for Trademark Operations and the OCIO, working together while the “institutional memory” still exists, to document the history of the TMNG development process, identify those decisions and turning points that were especially helpful or unhelpful, and prepare a list of “lessons learned” that could be used to facilitate future USPTO and other U.S. government IT development projects.
Although the completion of such a “lessons learned” report will likely have to wait for the completion of TMNG, it is not too early to begin compiling the report. The TPAC recommends that at least one person from Trademark Operations and one person from the OCIO (and perhaps someone from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer as well) be tasked with starting on this potentially very useful project. The TPAC stresses that the purpose of the report would not be to cast blame on any individuals or organizations but rather to highlight what worked well in the development of TMNG and what did not and to suggest ways to improve future developments of large, complex, internal and external IT systems.
As mentioned above, the USPTO experienced a major power outage in December 2015. Soon after the outage occurred, the USPTO made the following announcement:
“At approximately 8:00 p.m. eastern standard time, [Tuesday,] December 22, 2015, the USPTO experienced a major power failure at the Alexandria campus impacting all USPTO computer systems. All examining systems are currently offline and inaccessible. OCIO teams are working to restore these systems but this will likely take several days. At this point, at least [six trademark IT tools] are not available. External systems are down as well and filing is not possible. Currently, email, phone service and the Service [D]esk are operational. If you are having any issues with those systems, please call the Service Desk.”
The power outage affected literally thousands of servers, network switches, firewalls, databases, and their connections. Numerous USPTO staff, contractors, and services providers, especially those who support the OCIO, worked diligently and selflessly over the holidays to restore the USPTO’s power and IT functionality. They were able to restore some functionality as early as December 23 and to restore almost all functionality by December 28. Because of the USPTO’s data-backup systems and procedures, no trademark data appears to have been lost as a result of the power outage.
The USPTO did nothing to cause the power outage, and it was not caused by any entity seeking to harm the USPTO. According to an announcement the USPTO made after power was restored: “The USPTO contracts, through service providers, for clean uninterrupted power from state of the art, redundant, uninterrupted power supplies for [its] data systems. On December 22, both of these power supplies were damaged, resulting in a complete power outage to [the USPTO’] data systems. Analysis of the damage over the last week confirms [the USPTO’s] earlier assessments and eliminates any concerns of foul play. [The USPTO] will take this opportunity to work with [its] service providers to ensure that lessons are learned and improvements are made.”
At least one lawsuit has been filed against the USPTO by a party claiming that the USPTO should not have extended procedural deadlines as a result of the power outage. However, the TPAC commends the entire USPTO and especially the OCIO for dealing so candidly, efficiently, and effectively with the enormous problems caused by the outage.
|C.||Budget and Funding Issues.|
Total trademark fees collected in 2016 are estimated to be $276.3 million representing an increase of 1.5% over collections in 2015. With prior year Operating Reserve and other sources of income, $385.8 million in total resources were available. Total spending was $278.8 million, resulting in $107 million available for the 2017 Operating Reserve.
The Operating Reserve is consistent with the policy of four months operating expenses in the reserve; however, a stronger six-month operating reserve is strongly recommended. It is noted that the Operating Reserve has declined significantly from $157 million in FY 2014. This is the result of significant unanticipated spending in IT and the fee reduction. The TPAC will continue to monitor the Operating Reserve with a goal of maintaining a six-month reserve of trademark operating expenses.
|2.||Impact of 2015 Fee Reduction.|
In 2015, the USPTO reduced fees for filing electronically to incentivize more complete applications by reducing the fee for TEAS Plus filing, its lowest cost option, to $225 per class. TEAS RF was introduced at $325, reducing the cost by $50 per class for both types of filings. Registrants saved $100 per class by electronically filing for renewal. In the first year, applicants and registrants saved $21 million. Through FY 2016 applicants and registrants are projected to save an additional $30.3 million due to lower cost options. The fee reductions not only saved trademark users’ resources, but helped incentivize use of electronic systems.
The USPTO continually tries to balance the fees according to office needs because of workload ebbs and flows, and to incentivize behaviors for the users to encourage greater use of the electronic systems. The TPAC commends the due diligence of the Trademark Operations.
|3.||Financial Advisory Board.|
The Financial Advisory Board (“FAB”) overseen by CFO, CIO and patent and trademark executives provides oversight, accountability, and analysis for financial activities, ensuring funding is sufficient to carry out the mission and objectives of the USPTO. The FAB reviews fee proposals and annual agency spending requests to ensure consistent practices to mitigate financial and operational risk. The FAB had recommended a reduction of $460 million for FY 2016-FY 2017 funding in its 2015 review to manage within expected revenues. Most recently the FAB has recommended adjustments to the FY 2017 and FY 2018 plans based on an updated financial outlook. Trademark revenues and operating reserves appear to be sufficient to fund planned hiring and spending requests, as well as increases for continuing TMNG projects.
|4.||Fees Study and Fee Increase.|
In 2016, the USPTO conducted a comprehensive biennial review of the fee structure for both Trademark Operations and the TTAB. This represented the first major agency review using the fee-setting authority provided by the AIA. The fee review process incorporated an evaluation of the existing trademark fee schedule, as well as research and analysis on potential revisions to the fee schedule. In accordance with the delegated authority to set fees via Section 10 of the AIA, the USPTO notified the TPAC of the intent to set or adjust certain trademark fees and submitted a preliminary trademark fee proposal with supporting materials on October 14, 2015. Notice of this proposal was published in the Federal Register (80 Fed. Reg. 63542) on October 20, 2015.
The TPAC held a public hearing of stakeholders on November 3, 2015, reviewed written comments from stakeholders and the public, and submitted its written report to the USPTO on November 30, 2015.
Upon review of the report and stakeholder comments, the USPTO published an NPRM in the Federal Register on May 27, 2016. The public comment period was for 45 days. Following a period of extensive internal and administrative review, including consideration for public comment and clearance by the DOC, Small Business Administration (“SBA”) and the Office of Budget and Management (“OMB”), the NFRM was published in the Federal Register (81 Red. Reg. 72694) on October 21, 2016. The effective date of the final rule will be January 14, 2017.
According to the USPTO, the fee change will: (a) better align fees with costs as the basis for adjusting some fees; (b) ensure the integrity of the register by incentivizing more timely filing, examination of applications and other filings, and more efficient resolution of appeals and trials; and (c) promote the efficiency of the process, in large part through lower cost electronic filing options.
|5.||Direct v. Indirect Spending.|
Total trademark fee collections account for approximately 9% of the total USPTO fee collections. The total USPTO 2016 appropriation authority was $3.2 billion. The Trademarks share was 9.2% of $3.1 billion in the USPTO reported expenses. Direct spending for Trademark Operations and the TTAB accounted for 49% of trademark fee collections. Spending on trademark IT systems comprised 32% of total trademark expenses. The remainder of the Trademarks spending (19%) is used for shared services within the USPTO, including infrastructure for agency-wide information technology, human resource management, financial management, legal services, policy and international activities, and USPTO administration and management. It is noted that in 2016, the allocation percentage for trademark user fees for shared services within the USPTO showed improvement from previous years. While the percentage share of user fees is still higher than that allocated to patent user fees, the allocated amount as a share of spending has come down. This has been an area of concern for the TPAC. The TPAC will continue to monitor these allocations and discuss any appropriate adjustments with the USPTO.
|6.||Spending in Trademarks for Trademark Information Technology.|
In 2016, the IT Subcommittee and Budget Subcommittee worked more closely in monitoring budget v. spending for IT, which accounts for 32% of direct spending in Trademarks in FY 2016. Particular focus was paid to the deliverables in TMNG, where $24.1 million was spent in FY 2016. A new phase, TMNG-2, began in 2016, which includes several new projects. The following figures show the projected total investment (spent and projected) of trademark users’ fees for all individual projects from 2013-2018 as of July 2016.
|7.||Enterprise Services (formerly Shared Services) with the DOC.|
The USPTO has been participating in a working group with the DOC on its shared services project that is now known as “Enterprise Services.” The objective of the project is to ensure that all DOC bureaus have access to high quality mission support services in the core areas of Human Resources (“HR”), Acquisition, Financial Management (“FM”), and Information Technology (“IT”). As the second largest bureau within the DOC and due to its specialized technical needs, the USPTO has made significant investments in financial management, acquisition, human resource, and IT systems. Shared services is a concept that may help some of the smaller bureaus that are not as advanced in these capabilities. The USPTO would consider services under this project if they were an improvement to current services and systems. To date, no commitments have been made for the USPTO to acquire services under this project. It should be noted that while the DOC and its bureaus is funded through tax revenues, the USPTO is funded entirely through user fees paid by trademark owners and inventors to protect their brands and innovations. For this reason, the TPAC believe it is critical to monitor closely any possible diversion of user fees to general DOC functions.
|D.||Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.|
|1.||Changes to TTAB Rules of Practice.|
On April 4, 2016, the USPTO issued an NPRM proposing substantial changes to the rules of practice of the TTAB. The new rules are the culmination of significant internal examination of processes and procedures by the TTAB and extensive outreach to practitioners and stakeholder organizations over the past several years. The focal points for the new rules include consideration of suggestions for improvements to its prior rules, leveraging of efficiencies from Accelerated Case Resolution procedures that could be applied to all TTAB proceedings, and discussions with TTAB stakeholders and users to ensure TTAB proceedings meet their needs. For example, the TTAB conducted a number of public roundtables and meetings over the past several years to brainstorm and discuss potential changes to its rules of practice. Then, prior to publication of the NPRM in April 2016, the TTAB circulated a draft to the TPAC, and we provided detailed feedback to Chief Judge Rogers and his staff. After the NPRM was published, the TTAB received written comments from 17 commenters, including various IP organizations, law firms, and attorneys. The TTAB then hosted a public meeting on June 24, 2016 to summarize, provide feedback, and answer questions regarding the comments it received. The NFRM was published in the Federal Register (81 Fed. Reg. 69950) on October 7, 2016, with the changes to take effect on January 14, 2017. While the TPAC and its various members may not agree with every rule change, we commend the TTAB for its thoughtful and inclusive process in developing these new rules.
Some of the major changes in the TTAB’s final rule include the following:
All submissions to the TTAB must be filed electronically through the TTAB’s ESTTA, unless excused via Petition to Director (for pleadings) or accompanied by an explanation of reasons for not using ESTTA (for filings during proceedings).
The TTAB will resume the responsibility to serve the initial pleading in inter partes proceedings (e.g., the Notice of Opposition or Petition for Cancellation) on the Defendant, and will do so by email whenever possible. Rather than serving a paper or .pdf copy of the complaint, the Board will serve it in the form of a link to, or web address for the electronic case file in, TTABVUE in the notice of institution.
Service of all papers by the TTAB on the parties will be by email. The parties also must serve all papers between them by email, unless they stipulate otherwise to accommodate other methods of communication where email is not practical (e.g., file hosting services with cloud storage, delivery of USB drive, etc.). In view of mandatory email service, the additional five days previously added to response periods to account for mail delays is removed in the final rule.
Like interrogatories, requests for production and requests for admission will be limited to 75, with the option of requesting leave to serve additional requests upon good cause shown. One additional comprehensive request for admission will be permitted for authentication of documents produced by the other party that the requesting party plans to introduce at trial.
Parties will have the right to submit trial testimony by declaration or affidavit. However, the opposing party will have the right to take testimonial depositions to cross-examine each declarant/affidavit. The party submitting trial testimony of a witness by declaration/affidavit has the obligation to make that witness available for cross-examination, but the cross-examining party bears the expense of the cross-examination. The notice to take a cross-examination deposition must be served on the adverse party and filed with the Board within 20 days after the declaration/affidavit is served, and the deposition must be completed within 30 days after the notice is served.
Deposition testimony must be filed in full-sized format, not condensed with multiple pages per sheet, to aid Board review.
All discovery must be completed during the discovery period. Thus, discovery requests must be served sufficiently in advance of the discovery deadline such that the responses are due and documents produced or inspected on or before the deadline.
The deadline for filing motions to compel discovery or to determine the sufficiency of responses to requests for admissions will be prior to the deadline for the plaintiff’s pretrial disclosures for the first testimony period.
Certain requirements for Notices of Reliance will be updated to reflect current TTAB practice (e.g., submitting printouts of Internet documents), and to standardize the requirements for the covering notice regardless of the type of evidence being filed.
Parties, examining attorneys, and Board members may elect to attend hearings remotely through video conference.
|2.||Changes to TTAB Fees.|
As discussed above, the USPTO issued an NFRM that will adjust various trademark fees, including some TTAB fees, effective January 14, 2017. The TPAC notes that the TTAB has not increased its fees or added new fees in many years, and the overall cost of its operations is largely subsidized by fee revenue from trademark applicants and registrants. Thus, the TPAC supports in principle some upward adjustment of fees charged by the TTAB. We also appreciate the TTAB’s efforts to solicit and consider comments from the TPAC and the public regarding the specific fee adjustments that were adopted.
The TTAB fee adjustments include:
Increasing the fee for filing a Notice of Opposition or Petition for Cancellation from $300/class to $400/class (if filed electronically) or $500/class (if filed by paper).
Increasing the fee for filing an Ex Parte Notice of Appeal from $100/class to $200/class (if filed electronically) or $300/class (if filed by paper).
Instituting a three-tiered fee structure for requests for an extension of time to oppose an application: (1) no fee for a first request for a 30-day extension; (2) $100/application for a second request for an additional 60-day extension for good cause, if filed electronically ($200/application if filed by paper); (3) $200/application for a final 60-day extension with consent or under extraordinary circumstances, if filed electronically ($300/application if filed by paper). If a potential opposer requests a 90-day extension for good cause in the first request, the second tier fee will apply ($100/application if filed electronically, $200/application if filed on paper).
In the TPAC’s report dated November 30, 2015, we recommended that instead of increasing the fee for filing an Ex Parte Notice of Appeal, the TTAB should consider instituting a new fee when and if the applicant files an Appeal Brief. This would avoid imposing additional fees on applicants in the common situation in which an applicant files a Notice of Appeal with a Request for Reconsideration, and the appeal does not go forward upon the Examining Attorney’s reconsideration. However, the TTAB did not adopt this recommendation. Our report also noted a divergence of views received from the public regarding the new fees for filing opposition extension requests, and that the TPAC members’ views were not unanimous, but that a majority of TPAC members believed the fees are reasonable to encourage potential opposers to engage more quickly in an analysis of the potential dispute and seek resolution at a sooner point.
|3.||Changes to Standard Protective Order.|
On June 24, 2016, the TTAB adopted a revised Standard Protective Order (“SPO”). The new SPO simplifies procedures for designating and maintaining confidential information by reducing the levels of protected information to two (“Confidential” and “Confidential-Attorneys’ Eyes Only (Trade Secret/Commercially Sensitive)”), and makes various other minor changes to the prior SPO (summarized in the TPAC’s 2015 Annual Report at II.D.4.e.).
As of the end of FY 2016, the TTAB has 24 Administrative Trademark Judges (“ATJs”) (in addition to the Chief and Deputy Chief ATJs), 14.6 Interlocutory Attorneys (one attorney works a 60% schedule), and 11 paralegals.
After almost two decades of service as an ATJ, David Bucher retired in December 2015. The TPAC congratulates Judge Bucher on his many years of outstanding service.
During FY 2016, the TTAB hired Christopher Larkin and George Pologeorgis as ATJs, and Kate (Katie) McKnight and Mary Beth Myles as Interlocutory Attorneys. The TPAC would like to congratulate and welcome these individuals to their new roles at the TTAB.
In FY 2016, the TTAB continued its streak going back many years of meeting or exceeding virtually all of its performance goals and metrics. The TPAC once again congratulates the Board on its outstanding performance and service to the trademark community. Highlights of these statistics are set out below. Note that “average pendency” figures are calculated after excluding cases that resulted in issuance of precedential orders or decisions, or consideration of such issuance, and cases with anomalous prosecution histories (such as lengthy suspensions or remands). The resulting figures thereby provide more useful averages for those involved in the vast majority of typical proceedings and allow clients and counsel a more accurate estimate of how long it will take the Board to resolve typical cases or motions.
5,881 oppositions, 1,848 cancellations, and 3,121 appeals were filed in FY 2016 (compared to 5,290 oppositions, 1,763 cancellations, and 2,992 appeals in FY 2015).
The TTAB issued 35 precedential decisions in FY 2016 (within its target of 35-40 precedential decisions/year).
Average pendency of all non-precedential final decisions (in both ex parte and inter partes cases) issued in FY 2016 was 9.2 weeks (bettering the TTAB’s goal of 10-12 weeks). The average for ex parte appeals was 8.8 weeks, and for inter partes cases was 10.8 weeks. Pendency is measured from the date the case becomes ready for final decision (“RFD”) to the date the final decision is issued.
Average pendency of precedential decisions issued in FY 2016 was 32.5 weeks for final decisions in inter partes cases (compared to 48.1 weeks in FY 2015), 30.6 weeks for final decisions in ex parte cases (compared to 39.7 weeks in FY 2015), and 25 weeks for interlocutory orders (compared to 45 weeks in FY 2015).
The TTAB issued a total of 688 final decisions in FY 2016 (compared to 562 in FY 2015), leaving the total inventory of cases ready for final decision at year end at 83 cases (below target of 125-150 cases).
The average “end to end” (commencement to completion) pendency of inter partes cases decided in FY 2016 was 154.3 weeks (compared to 161.2 weeks in FY 2015). The median pendency of such cases was 142 weeks (same as in FY 2015).
The average “end to end” processing time for ex parte appeals decided in FY 2016 was 39.7 weeks (compared to 42.7 weeks in FY 2015). Median pendency of such appeals was 34 weeks (compared to 35 weeks in FY 2015).
Average pendency of non-precedential decisions on contested motions issued in FY 2016 was 8.2 weeks (within the target of 8-9 weeks).
The age of the oldest contested motion RFD at the end of FY 2016 was 11.4 weeks (better than the goal of 12 weeks).
The inventory of contested motions RFD at the end of FY 2016 was 117 (below target of 145-175 motions).
The TTAB continues its efforts to reduce the number of cases operating under the pre-November 2007 rules. At the end of FY 2016, 35 such proceedings (including consolidated cases) remain on the TTAB’s docket (compared to 48 at the end of FY 2015). The vast majority of these remaining cases are not under the TTAB’s sole control because they are suspended pending another proceeding, remanded to an Examining Attorney, or are pending appeal. In any event, once the TTAB’s amended rules take effect in January 2017, all cases will proceed under the extant rules.
|1.||Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Attaché Program.|
The U.S. IP Attaché Program, which was introduced in 2006, continues to be a very important tool both in advancing harmonization and supporting the protection and enforcement of the rights of U.S. businesses abroad.
Fee Allocation. The TPAC continued in FY 2016 to monitor the IP Attaché Program as it impacts trademarks and the USPTO’s budget allocations. In FY 2015, the Office adopted a new way for the attachés to report their time, which tracks allocation of their time by category (trademarks, patents, copyrights, and other), rather than just reporting on major initiatives. Under this method, the fees from the Attaché Program which were allocated to Trademarks, were adjusted on a quarterly basis so that they directly reflected the work being done on trademark issues. This approach has worked well and the TPAC is very pleased by this result, and appreciative of the responsiveness of the USPTO to bring greater transparency to funding for this invaluable program.
Expansion. FY 2016 saw several new attachés join the program. In February 2016, the USPTO posted its first IP attaché in Lima, Peru. Also, there were replacements in Mexico City, Mexico, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Additionally, the USPTO plans to place a new attaché in Kiev, Ukraine, in late 2016 to ultimately replace the Moscow position. The Kiev position will cover Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Outreach. Throughout FY 2016, the IP attachés engaged with the corporate community, academia, and other U.S. stakeholders to raise awareness of the availability and the services of the Attaché Program and to learn what issues were paramount in the concerns of the community. In December 2015, the IP attachés hosted or otherwise participated in a series of meetings in Washington, D.C., including one with some members of the TPAC and various IP organizations such as American Intellectual Property Law Association and INTA, and another session with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
TPAC members who attended the meetings in December 2015 reported that the gathering was very informative. Several in attendance recommended that the IP attachés utilize their USPTO webpage as a means to communicate information to IP organizations earlier so that they can better assist them with ongoing issues. The TPAC fully supports this recommendation. As was reported above, the IP attachés’ method of tracking the allocation of their time by category was confirmed as they reported their percentage of time worked on trademark matters was in keeping with the fee allocation for this program. The IP attachés reported that in their respective territories’ counterfeiting continues to be a serious problem.
Below is a representative sample of current issues the IP attachés are working on by region and the TPAC fully supports these efforts.
EU – Counterfeiting over open country borders;
China – Counterfeiting, bad faith trademark filings;
Russia – Counterfeiting;
Ukraine – Infringement;
WIPO – Funding of the implementation of the Lisbon Agreement on Geographical Indications;
India – Counterfeiting, customs recordation, enforcement;
Middle East – Infringement, counterfeiting, development of new Gulf Cooperation Council States’ trademark law;
Association of Southeast Asian Nations – Infringement, counterfeiting;
Indonesia – Infringement; and
Vietnam – Intellectual property impact study.
In May 2016, members of the IP Attaché Program attended and delivered presentations at the INTA Annual Meeting and International Anticounterfeiting Coalition Spring Conference in Orlando and also met with U.S. stakeholders in Daytona Beach. In Orlando and Daytona Beach, they met with associations and companies in the food, entertainment, manufacturing, and defense industries. In FY 2017, it is anticipated that in addition to their meetings in Washington, D.C., the attachés will visit with the USPTO regional office in Denver and meet with U.S. stakeholders in that region. The TPAC commends the U.S. Attaché Program and its continuing efforts directed to the improvement and enforcement of IP laws for the benefit of U.S. stakeholders.
|2.||Madrid Protocol Updates.|
The Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks (“Madrid Protocol”) is one of two treaties that comprise the Madrid System for the international registration of trademarks. The Madrid Protocol is a filing treaty, not a substantive harmonization treaty. It is a cost-effective and highly efficient way for trademark owners to protect their marks in multiple countries through the filing of one application with a single office, in one language, with one set of fees in a single currency. It eliminates the need for local counsel to act as agents for filing applications in countries or contracting parties. Once an international registration issues, it then devolves to each country or contracting party to determine whether or not protection is granted in its territory. However, once granted, the mark is protected there just as if that country or contracting party’s own office had registered it. The Madrid Protocol greatly simplifies portfolio maintenance for registered marks by providing a single procedural step to record subsequent changes in ownership, name or address of the holder, as well as greatly simplifying the process for renewing the mark.
Growth of Madrid Protocol – New Accessions. Lao People’s Democratic Republic acceded to the Madrid Protocol in March, 2016, bringing the total number of contracting parties to the Madrid Protocol to 113. Anticipated accessions in the next one to three years include Brunei, Malaysia, Thailand; Trinidad and Tobago; and Canada, Indonesia, Jamaica, Malawi, and possibly Peru and South Africa in 2016-2017.
WIPO Working Group – The Legal Development of the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks. The WIPO Working Group agreed to several amendments to the Common Regulations that will be sent to the Madrid Assembly for approval in October 2016. These amendments include:
The office of the designated contracting party will now be notified where the appointment of a representative has been recorded in the International Register.
Designated contracting parties will now notify the International Bureau (“IB”) of a further decision that affects the protection of the mark to the extent that the office is aware of the decision in instances where a statement of grant of protection under Rule 18ter(1) issued or where “tacit acceptance” has been applied.
An office of origin, where it is aware of one, will promptly notify the IB of any judicial action or proceedings that has completed, but has not resulted in a ceasing of protection, withdrawal or renunciation.
The office of a designated contracting party can now request the IB to send a communication on its behalf to the holder where the national law does not permit direct communication between that office and the holder.
The holder can now request a division of the international registration (“IR”) resulting in a new IR number, which will be the number of the parent followed by a capital letter.
WIPO International Registration Revision Proposals. Discussions are ongoing regarding replacement practices, examining limitations, and a series of possible proposals to increase the flexibility of the system including:
Division and Merger of the International Registration. Switzerland and many European countries wanted to add the possibility for applicants to “divide” and then “merge” certain goods or services into a separate international registration, thereby allowing those goods or services that have not been refused to proceed through the Madrid System, while the refused goods or services continue in examination. Most national offices provide this service for directly-filed applications, but only the United States provides this feature for Madrid filings. Most countries did not create national registration numbers but use the IR number at the national level, making division at the national level difficult. The Madrid Working Group reached consensus on the proposals to provide for division and merger of the international registration. The implementing regulations will likely enter into force on February 1, 2019.
Examining Limitations. Europe has proposed to have the IB examine the lists of goods or services and any “limitations” of the original identifications sent by the country of origin to designated contracting parties. Limitations can be filed with the international application, a subsequent designation, or in response to a provisional refusal. Some countries do not want the IB to examine anything except classification, which the IB controls via the Nice Agreement. Other countries have indicated that they want the office of origin to examine these limitations and still others have indicated that the office of the designated contracting party should examine the limitations. Discussions on this issue will continue at the next Working Group. The TPAC will continue monitoring this issue.
Eliminating Basic Mark or Freezing Dependency and Future Development. The Working Group has long been discussing a proposal to eliminate the basic mark requirement in the Madrid System but has been unable to reach consensus on the issue. Another proposal, freezing dependency, that could have similar effects to eliminating the basic mark and increasing the flexibility of the Madrid System also did not achieve consensus. Freezing dependency is a way to decouple the basic mark from the international registration without entirely eliminating the basic mark requirement. Either proposal could help U.S. filers because they could file an application for a basic mark at the USPTO with a broad identification of goods or services (“ID”), file an international application with that broad ID, get an international registration that designates contracting parties that would accept that ID, and not have those designations limited when the U.S. basic mark gets examined and the ID gets narrowed. Currently, there is no consensus to eliminate the basic mark or freeze dependency. The TPAC will continue to monitor these issues.
|3.||WIPO Standing Committee on Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (“SCT”).|
Country Names. The Delegations of Jamaica and Switzerland are advocating for a draft joint recommendation on the protection of country names. The joint recommendation proposes both that country names are considered private rights owned by governments, but also considers that any unauthorized use would be considered per se deceptive, thus, avoiding the need for the affected governments to take enforcement action. The Standing Committee on Trademarks has undertaken a large survey of Member states to study how countries are already handling country names in trademark examination and in use to evaluate whether such a joint recommendation is necessary. The TPAC looks forward to receiving the results of this survey.
Geographical Indications. The EU and its member states are requesting a work program on GIs and the Internet, including online enforcement of GIs and protection of GIs in the domain name system, but have refused a work program to discuss national systems for the protection of GIs. The United States believes discussions on these Internet and domain name topics are premature in light of the lack of misunderstanding globally as to what a GI is and what is the appropriate scope of protection. The United States and other like-minded countries are pursuing a work program to have the SCT discuss GI registration systems at the national and regional levels. Work on this topic has been blocked for a decade while the EU and its member states pursued a revision of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications. Negotiations will continue at the next session of the SCT in October 2016.
WIPO Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications. The United States is disappointed with the process and result that came out of the WIPO’s May 2015 diplomatic conference for the adoption of the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin (“AOs”) and Geographical Indications (“GIs”). The Geneva Act was adopted at a diplomatic conference that did not allow for equal participation by all WIPO members and as a result was an agreement that many, if not most, WIPO members cannot join. Moreover, the Lisbon Agreement and its Geneva Act provide an overly broad scope of protection for AOs and GIs that restricts trade in goods that use common names or trademarks.
During this FY2016, the United States and a group of other countries continued to press for a balanced discussion on GIs at WIPO.
The United States has proposed that a balanced approach to GIs at WIPO should focus on four core principles.
Each WIPO Registration System should be financially self-sufficient, which means that in efforts to promote the Lisbon System, WIPO should only use revenue generated by the Lisbon System to fund promotion and technical assistance for implementation.
In providing information and technical assistance on national or regional protection systems for GIs, WIPO must recognize that sui generis GI registration systems, trademark systems, and unfair competition systems can all facilitate the protection of GIs, and the Lisbon Agreement model should not be promoted above other systems of protection.
In the Standing Committee on Trademarks, Industrial Designs and Geographical Indications (“SCT”), the WIPO Secretariat should facilitate understanding of the issues related to GI protection principles, including the different policy and stakeholder interests that influence GI protection systems, without prejudicing the outcome of the discussion.
The WIPO Secretariat should refrain from administering the Geneva Act of the Lisbon Agreement until the WIPO General Assembly gives approval.
The Five Trademark Offices (“TM5”). The TM5 is a framework through which five intellectual property offices, namely, the USPTO, the Japan Patent Office (“JPO”), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (“KIPO”), the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (“OHIM”), and the Trademark Office of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“SAIC”), exchange information on trademark-related matters and undertake cooperative activities aimed at harmonizing or improving their respective trademark systems and procedures.
Annual Meeting of December 1-2, 2015. The last annual meeting of the TM5 was held December 1-2, 2015, in Alexandria, Virginia. At that time, the TM5 offices discussed various joint projects, including the “Continuation/Expansion of the Bad Faith Project,” “Taxonomy,” and the “ID List Project.” The partners also approved KIPO’s proposal to conduct a new project called “Providing Information on How TM5 Members Describe Goods and Services,” in which the partners will develop best practices for drafting identifications of goods or services so that users will enjoy a greater acceptance rate when they choose to not use a pre-approved TM5 ID List term. The partners also approved a jointly-led project by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (“EUIPO”) and JPO on increasing user involvement with TM5.
Ongoing Initiatives. The partners are working to select a sample of cases that were filed in all five TM5 offices to be analyzed in a Comparative Analysis of Examination Results Project. Also, the partners have created and are currently completing a standardized method of providing information about the TM5’s requirements for applications that each office receives under the Madrid Protocol. The TPAC supports these efforts.
Mid-Year Meeting. The TM5 partners conducted their mid-term meeting on July 18, 2016, in Beijing, China. In FY 2016, the TM5 partners continued to conduct seminars involving the exchange of best practices for combatting bad faith trademark filings. The most recent seminar was conducted in Tokyo in March 2016 and attracted hundreds of attendees who had the opportunity to discuss bad-faith filings with each of the TM5 partner offices. Currently, the TM5 partners continue to work on a new bad-faith filing report that is scheduled to be issued next fiscal year. The partners also continued work on the KIPO project on Comparative Analysis on Examination Results, which is compiling examination data on trademark applications that were filed in all five partner offices.
Common Status Descriptors. As part of the USPTO-led “Common Status Descriptors” (“CSD”) project, on May 7, 2016, the USPTO launched the TM5 Common Status Descriptors as a new status feature in Trademark Status & Document Retrieval. This feature provides status of applications and registrations at the USPTO using a uniform set of icons and terms that were cooperatively developed by the TM5. At the annual meeting in December 2015, the TM5 partners agreed to a set of status icons to be used in conjunction with previously approved status terminology that identify the statuses of trademark applications and registrations in their offices. JPO deployed the CSD in test format in April, and EUIPO expects deployment by the end of the year. The partners continue to work to display the CSD on their publicly facing websites.
Upcoming Annual Meeting. SAIC is the secretariat for the 2016 Annual Meeting, which will take place on October 28-29, 2016, in Kunshan City, China.
Infant Formula Labeling Restrictions. USPTO has been working with others in the administration to develop a strategy to respond to the World Health Organization’s recent Guidance on “Ending the Inappropriate Promotion of Foods for Infants and Young Children.” The WHO issued Guidance to its Member States on May 16, 2016 that recommends national regulatory restrictions on labels for infant formula and “complementary foods” that include milk and milk products for infants and kids. The Guidance recommends that WHO Member States should impose labeling restrictions on infant formula or other foods for children in an effort to promote breast feeding for infants and kids up to three years. These labeling restrictions include restrictions on the use of trademarks and trade dress on infant formula and dairy products, as well as restrictions on marketing. Regarding infant formula, countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Thailand have restricted the use of trademarks in various ways on packaging—most notably, by allowing no pictures of infants on packaging or any other suggestion of suitability for infants. Considering this new Guidance from WHO, the USPTO is concerned that WHO members will construe it as a green light to begin invalidating trademarks on these products or otherwise restrict the use of valid marks that are not deceptive to the consumer.
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 339|
Errata "All references to Patent No. 9,474,204 to YOSHIFUMI MORITA of Aichi, JP for WORK MACHINE HAVING OPERATION ROD appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,373 to ARMIN BALDREICH of Lauterach, AT for ACUTATING DRIVE FOR MOVING A MOVEABLE FURNITURE PART appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,378 to NICHOLAS CHRISTIANSON of Fairway, KS for ERGONOMIC SEATING ASSEMBLIES AND METHODS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,603 to GARY THILL of Vadnais Heights, MN for STENTLESS SUPPORT STRUCTURE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,617 to PHILIPP LANG of Lexington, MA for SOLID FREEFORM FABRICATION OF IMPLANT COMPONENTS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,659 to MICHAEL TRENNEPOHL of Cincinnati, OH for METHOD OF CONSTRUCTING ABSORBENT ARTICLES COMPRISING GRAPHICS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,677 to OSAMU MIYAZAWA of Shimosuwa-machi, JP for FINGER ASSIST DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,696 to GEORGE PICHA of Brecksville, OH for BRIDLE CATHETER WITH ILLUMINATING END appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,867 to KUNAL SUR of Evanston, IL for FROTH DETECTION SYSTEM AND METHOD appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,897 to THAKKAR, VIRAL et al of BURNABY, CANADA for APPARATUS AND METHODS FOR ASSISTED BREATHING BY TRANSVASCULAR NERVE STIMULATION appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,474,921 to HENRY, TIMOTHY G. et al of PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY for METHOD AND FORMULATION FOR NEUTRALIZING TOXIC CHEMICALS AND MATERIALS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,249 to NIKLAS PETTERSSON of Sandy, UT for AUTOMATED GLUING DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,322 to KOSHIRO YAMAGUCHI of Kakamigahara-shi, JP for TAPE CASSETTE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,323 to KOSHIRO YAMAGUCHI of Kakamigahara-shi, JP for TAPE CASSETTE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,324 to KOSHIRO YAMAGUCHI of
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 340|
Kakamigahara-shi, JP for TAPE CASSETTE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,325 to KOSHIRO YAMAGUCHI of Kakamigahara-shi, JP for TAPE CASSETTE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,345 to MASATOMO OSHIMA of Kodaira-shi, Tokyo, JP for MOTORCYCLE TIRE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,499 to CHRISTOPHER URMSON of Mountain View, CA for DETECTING ROAD WEATHER CONDITIONS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,505 to HIRASHIMA, TOSHIYUKI et al of KOBE-SHI, JAPAN for RAILCAR appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,523 to HISANORI MITSUMOTO of Gotenba-shi, JP for VEHICULAR TRAVEL CONTROL DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,561 to ANDREAS BLOMDAHL of Angelholm, SE for OUTBOARD DRIVE DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,610 to MICHEL MORAND of Montreal, CA for WASTE-DISPOSAL DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,475,944 to MICHEL TIELEMANS of Wemmel, BE for ACTIVE ENERGY RAY CURABLE AQUEOUS EMULSIONS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,076 to SEIKO HIRANO of Kanagawa, JP for METHOD FOR PRODUCING L-AMINO ACID USING MICROORGANISM HAVING INCREASED PHOSPHATE TRANSPORTER ACTIVITY appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,160 to HIGUCHI, NAOTAKA et al of FUJIMI-MACHI, JAPAN for SHEET MANUFACTURING APPARATUS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,201 to BRETT SAREYKA of Aston, PA for BEAM CLIP WITH TEETH appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,224 to KEVIN HOULIHAN of North Salem, NY for COMBINATION LOCK WITH ROTARY LATCH appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,300 to JEFFREY LEY of Cranberry, PA for PAN PITCH CONTROL IN A LONGWALL SHEARING SYSTEM appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,391 to SHUJI YOSHITSUNE of Aso-shi, Kumamoto, JP for INTAKE NOISE REDUCTION DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,445 to BLAINE RAWDON of San Pedro,
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 341|
CA for SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR USE IN COVERING A PORTION OF A FASTENER PROTRUDING FROM A SURFACE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,650 to NICHOLAS NAGURNY of Manassas, VA for HELICAL TUBE BUNDLE ARRANGEMENTS FOR HEAT EXCHANGERS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,674 to DAVID COMPTON of Kitchener, CA for APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR POWERING AND NETWORKING A RAIL OF A FIREARM appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,678 to DAVID COMPTON of Kitchener, CA for APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR INDUCTIVELY POWERING AND NETWORKING A RAIL OF A FIREARM appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,696 to FINDERS, JOZEF MARIA of VELDHOVEN, NETHERLANDS for LITHOGRAPHIC MASK, LITHOGRAPHIC APPARATUS AND METHOD appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,738 to YEVGENIY DORFMAN of Newton, MA for OPTICAL WAVEGUIDE SYSTEM FOR INTERROGATING A PLURALITY OF SENSOR NODES WHEREIN A LOCATION OF THE RECEIVED INPUT SIGNAL IS DETERMINED (AS AMENDED) appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,476,822 to GREGORY SOMMER of Livermore, CA for SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR DETECTING COMPONENTS OF A MIXTURE INCLUDING TOOTH ELEMENTS FOR ALIGNMENT appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,477,113 to HIROSHI ITO of Ishikawa, JP for LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,477,154 to JAN HOOGKAMP of Breda, NL for RADIATION SOURCE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,477,210 to WILLIAM ADAMS of Los Angeles, CA for MULTI-MEDIA WIRELESS WATCH appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,477,318 to CHRISTOPHER BALDWIN of Algonquin, IL for SURFACE DETERMINATION VIA BONE CONDUCTION appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,477,359 to JIAXIANG ZHANG of Beijing, CN for CAPACITIVE TOUCH PANEL, DISPLAY DEVICE AND METHOD FOR MANUFACTURING THE TOUCH PANEL appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,477,680 to YUI KAMMA of Kasugai-shi, JP for RELAY APPARATUS AND IMAGE PROCESSING DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,477,797 to MINSIK CHO of Austin, TX for AUTOMATING A MICROARCHITECTURE DESIGN EXPLORATION ENVIRONMENT appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted."
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 342|
"All references to Patent No. 9,477,866 to FLECK, STEVEN J. et al of PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA for METHODS FOR MONITORING OBJECTS IN A SURGICAL FIELD appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,085 to KEIJI MORITA of Aichi, JP for LOCK DEVICE AND ELECTRONIC KEY SYSTEM FOR USE WITH VEHICLE CHARGING INLET appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,114 to GRAHAM SNYDER of Raleigh, NC for WATER SAFETY MONITORING DEVICES, ALARM DEVICES AND RELATED METHODS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,155 to DAVID AUYEUNG of Carrollton, TX for LIGHT ASSEMBLY FOR PROVIDING SUBSTANTIALLY UNIFORM ILLUMINATION appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,172 to KAZUMA KITADANI of Chino-shi, JP for ELECTRO-OPTICAL DEVICE AND ELECTRONIC APPARATUS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,217 to MATTHEW SHARIFI of Kilchberg, CH for INITIATING ACTIONS BASED ON PARTIAL HOTWORDS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,222 to SEBASTIAN NASLUND of Solna, SE for FRAME ERROR CONCEALMENT appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,253 to JI-EUN KIM of Suwon-si, KR for METHOD FOR CREATING A CONTENT AND ELECTRONIC DEVICE THEREOF appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,266 to NISHITH DESAI of San Diego, CA for HIGH-SPEED PSEUDO-DUAL-PORT MEMORY WITH SEPARATE PRECHARGE CONTROLS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,400 to JEUNG HOON HAN of Gwangju-si, KR for SUBSTRATE PROCESSING DEVICE AND SUBSTRATE PROCESSING METHOD appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,493 to TAKESHI IWAMOTO of Tokyo, JP for SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICE AND A METHOD INCREASING A RESISTANCE VALUE OF AN ELECTRIC FUSE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,563 to JUNICHIRO SAKATA of Atsugi, JP for DISPLAY DEVICE INCLUDING TRANSISTOR AND MANUFACTURING METHOD THEREOF appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,577 to TOSHITAKA AKAHOSHI of Tokyo, JP for OPTICAL APPARATUS HAVING RESIN ENCASED STACKED OPTICAL AND SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICES appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,588 to HISATOSHI NAKAMURA of Tatsuno-machi, JP for METHOD OF MANUFACTURING ORGANIC EL DEVICE, ORGANIC EL
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 343|
DEVICE AND ELECTRONIC APPARATUS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,620 to HIDEKI UOCHI of Atsugi, JP for SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICE AND METHOD FOR DRIVING THE SAME appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,747 to JUNG-SUB LEE of Yongin-si, KR for HETEROCYCLIC COMPOUND AND ORGANIC LIGHT-EMITTING DIODE INCLUDING THE SAME appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,815 to JOSEPH BREIT of Bellevue, WA for UTILIZING PHASE CHANGE MATERIAL, HEAT PIPES, AND FUEL CELLS FOR AIRCRAFT APPLICATIONS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,894 to CHARLES HALLIBURTON of Port Moody, CA for PROCESS CONNECTOR DESIGN TO REDUCE OR ELIMINATE HOOP STRESS IN DIELECTRIC COMPONENTS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,478,922 to WEI SUN of Shenzhen, CN for COMMUNICATION CONNECTOR WITH AN ELASTIC INNER CONDUCTOR appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,143 to JUN KOYAMA of Sagamihara, JP for SEMICONDUCTOR DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,231 to GARY BOUDREAU of Kanata, CA for MOBILE DEVICE ASSISTED COORDINATED MULTIPOINT TRANSMISSION AND RECEPTION appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,313 to NOBUHIKO MIKI of Yokohama-shi, JP for MOBILE COMMUNICATION SYSTEM, BASE STATION APPARATUS, USER EQUIPMENT, AND METHOD appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,714 to HIROSHI TAKAHASHI of Narashino-shi, JP for IMAGING DEVICE AND FOCAL PLANE SHUTTER appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,724 to JIANTING WANG of Beijing, CN for DISPLAY DEVICE HOUSING AND DISPLAY DEVICE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,725 to MINORU UCHIYAMA of Utsunomiya-shi, JP for LENS APPARATUS AND A CAMERA SYSTEM appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,752 to KEUM-KOO LEE of Gyeonggi-do, KR for METHOD FOR PLAY SYNCHRONIZATION AND DEVICE USING THE SAME appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,479,819 to HOON CHOI of Mountain View, CA for MULTIMEDIA I/O SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE FOR ADVANCED DIGITAL TELEVISION appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted."
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 344|
"All references to Patent No. 9,479,924 to THOMAS MILLER of Ann Arbor, MI for APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR DETECTING A PERSONAL COMMUNICATION DEVICE IN A VEHICLE appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,480,057 to GUODONG ZHANG of Syosset, NY for WIRELESS COMMUNICATION METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR REPORTING TRAFFIC VOLUME MEASUREMENT INFORMATION TO SUPPORT ENHANCED UPLINK DATA TRANSMISSIONS appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted." "All references to Patent No. 9,480,072 to TAE-YOUNG KIM of Gyeonggi-do, KR for APPARATUS AND METHOD FOR TRANSMISSION/RECEPTION IN RADIO COMMUNICATION SYSTEM appearing in the Official Gazette of October 25, 2016 should be deleted since no patent was granted."
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 345|
|Certificates of Correction|
Certificates of Correction for November 8, 2016 6,251,762 9,154,561 9,290,516 9,411,025 6,261,665 9,154,908 9,296,905 9,411,344 6,997,882 9,155,339 9,297,011 9,411,879 7,006,039 9,155,744 9,297,942 9,414,278 7,078,031 9,155,785 9,298,773 9,414,314 7,122,873 9,156,319 9,301,833 9,414,930 7,135,453 9,156,987 9,302,999 9,415,047 7,283,154 9,157,894 9,303,829 9,415,145 7,303,754 9,158,608 9,304,243 9,415,236 7,333,068 9,158,898 9,308,304 9,415,353 7,339,908 9,159,300 9,309,370 9,415,712 7,358,298 9,160,061 9,310,155 9,416,315 7,425,255 9,161,164 9,310,347 9,416,481 7,446,714 9,162,994 9,310,436 9,417,186 7,480,502 9,163,125 9,310,446 9,419,080 7,533,075 9,163,463 9,310,568 9,419,215 7,598,645 9,163,468 9,310,759 9,419,521 7,605,241 9,163,785 9,311,027 9,419,588 7,622,559 9,163,962 9,311,304 9,419,894 7,792,845 9,164,076 9,311,598 9,420,299 7,796,593 9,166,150 9,313,220 9,420,330 7,877,105 9,166,437 9,314,167 9,420,396 7,940,650 9,166,935 9,314,450 9,420,556 8,034,952 9,168,061 9,314,504 9,420,729 8,052,970 9,168,111 9,314,890 9,420,731 8,132,242 9,168,234 9,315,189 9,420,966 8,135,897 9,169,328 9,315,229 9,421,307 8,199,927 9,169,627 9,315,408 9,421,350 8,373,956 9,170,081 9,316,285 9,422,197 8,440,184 9,171,718 9,316,394 9,422,531 8,475,616 9,172,049 9,316,545 9,422,958 8,515,216 9,172,362 9,317,160 9,423,156 8,574,832 9,173,054 9,317,193 9,423,195 8,592,756 9,173,521 9,320,094 9,423,419 8,679,857 9,173,711 9,320,159 9,423,770 8,691,288 9,173,763 9,320,685 9,423,858 8,697,715 9,173,950 9,321,840 9,423,873 8,725,658 9,174,675 9,324,026 9,423,895 8,734,794 9,175,322 9,324,294 9,424,478 8,751,454 9,176,011 9,325,998 9,424,624 8,759,495 9,177,004 9,326,085 9,424,718 8,761,141 9,178,940 9,326,999 9,425,351 8,771,693 9,179,338 9,328,879 9,425,848 8,777,583 9,180,058 9,330,097 9,426,073 8,782,005 9,180,237 9,330,400 9,426,730 8,817,109 9,180,356 9,331,138 9,426,845 8,831,426 9,180,537 9,332,246 9,427,051 8,832,027 9,180,561 9,332,632 9,427,052 8,835,622 9,181,250 9,334,195 9,427,183 8,841,083 9,183,537 9,334,521 9,427,228 8,841,152 9,185,203 9,335,336 9,427,265 8,848,516 9,186,406 9,335,487 9,427,275 8,866,689 9,186,455 9,337,622 9,427,318 8,889,221 9,187,807 9,339,436 9,427,325 8,900,731 9,189,460 9,339,790 9,427,328 8,903,192 9,189,969 9,340,059 9,427,555 8,908,884 9,190,173 9,344,382 9,427,659 8,928,198 9,190,620 9,347,033 9,427,782 8,933,637 9,192,600 9,347,102 9,427,912 8,945,217 9,194,497 9,347,397 9,428,001 8,945,254 9,194,948 9,348,119 9,428,739 8,947,219 9,196,945 9,349,018 9,428,913
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 346|
8,949,466 9,197,175 9,349,751 9,429,170 8,968,610 9,197,558 9,350,305 9,429,221 8,996,979 9,197,580 9,350,594 9,429,238 9,005,951 9,198,673 9,351,014 9,429,274 9,008,902 9,199,855 9,351,104 9,429,289 9,023,857 9,199,882 9,351,249 9,429,399 9,028,381 9,199,995 9,352,242 9,429,482 9,028,439 9,200,469 9,352,863 9,429,499 9,030,276 9,201,572 9,353,173 9,429,521 9,033,307 9,201,869 9,353,411 9,430,065 9,034,902 9,202,871 9,354,122 9,430,301 9,035,132 9,203,039 9,354,224 9,431,187 9,044,767 9,206,412 9,354,254 9,431,370 9,046,701 9,206,789 9,354,750 9,431,635 9,055,000 9,206,853 9,355,041 9,432,008 9,056,902 9,207,164 9,355,176 9,432,236 9,060,456 9,210,678 9,355,412 9,432,237 9,062,722 9,210,690 9,356,634 9,432,624 9,063,934 9,211,955 9,357,423 9,432,723 9,074,588 9,214,262 9,357,847 9,432,940 9,081,311 9,216,687 9,357,999 9,434,480 9,081,660 9,219,531 9,358,162 9,434,674 9,082,923 9,220,052 9,359,636 9,434,846 9,087,281 9,220,260 9,360,316 9,436,168 9,091,156 9,221,947 9,360,744 9,436,195 9,099,837 9,224,968 9,360,995 9,436,284 9,101,436 9,225,384 9,361,388 9,436,486 9,101,911 9,225,499 9,362,388 9,436,495 9,107,746 9,225,796 9,362,671 9,436,822 9,118,222 9,226,554 9,363,637 9,438,928 9,118,661 9,228,188 9,364,127 9,439,019 9,119,196 9,232,123 9,366,079 9,439,051 9,120,957 9,232,787 9,366,781 9,439,741 9,123,876 9,232,814 9,366,808 9,439,815 9,123,918 9,233,948 9,367,820 9,440,321 9,125,168 9,235,462 9,367,872 9,441,615 9,125,976 9,238,152 9,368,307 9,441,753 9,126,103 9,242,275 9,368,455 9,442,059 9,126,245 9,243,067 9,369,224 9,443,134 9,127,024 9,243,758 9,371,294 9,443,810 9,128,589 9,244,078 9,372,349 9,444,040 9,129,525 9,244,979 9,373,257 9,444,105 9,129,992 9,244,981 9,379,018 9,444,411 9,131,009 9,244,982 9,380,460 9,444,991 9,133,502 9,244,990 9,381,174 9,446,108 9,133,546 9,246,614 9,381,740 9,447,971 9,137,316 9,246,953 9,382,206 9,448,684 9,137,780 9,247,013 9,382,262 9,449,978 9,138,803 9,248,201 9,382,321 9,450,224 9,138,980 9,250,745 9,382,863 9,450,585 9,139,251 9,251,210 9,382,910 9,450,785 9,139,989 9,251,530 9,383,157 9,450,961 9,139,999 9,253,752 9,383,998 9,451,065 9,140,666 9,254,472 9,384,558 9,451,568 9,141,945 9,258,254 9,386,163 9,453,905 9,142,003 9,258,568 9,388,395 9,454,090 9,142,061 9,260,379 9,388,504 9,456,504 9,142,658 9,260,416 9,390,294 9,456,579 9,143,022 9,261,641 9,391,262 9,456,626 9,143,536 9,265,651 9,391,474 9,457,056 9,144,804 9,268,229 9,392,702 9,457,117 9,145,135 9,268,771 9,392,820 D. 668,010 9,145,483 9,272,990 9,393,099 D. 668,823 9,145,777 9,273,233 9,393,408 D. 682,778 9,146,455 9,276,071 9,394,622 D. 696,798 9,146,934 9,277,478 9,395,828 D. 702,747
|November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||1432 OG 347|
9,147,079 9,277,521 9,398,009 D. 716,697 9,147,446 9,278,765 9,398,612 D. 734,722 9,147,820 9,281,115 9,401,104 D. 749,267 9,149,347 9,281,769 9,401,458 D. 756,334 9,149,893 9,281,813 9,401,735 D. 757,246 9,151,589 9,282,347 9,402,895 D. 760,693 9,151,732 9,283,095 9,405,454 D. 763,606 9,151,823 9,284,543 9,406,676 D. 763,692 9,151,893 9,285,112 9,408,152 D. 764,669 9,152,149 9,285,803 9,408,771 D. 764,965 9,152,475 9,286,151 9,408,814 D. 765,544 9,154,283 9,286,274 9,409,706 D. 766,021 9,154,304 9,288,835 9,410,566 D. 766,609
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 348|
|AIA Trial Proceedings Filed before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board|
|Inter Partes Review|
|Patent No.||Trial Number||Requested Date||Petitioner||Patent Owner|
|6,470,399||IPR2016-01839||10/11/2016||Apple Inc.||Papst Licensing GmbH & Co., KG|
|9,189,437||IPR2016-01842||10/11/2016||Apple Inc.||Papst Licensing GmbH & Co., KG|
|9,189,437||IPR2016-01844||10/11/2016||Apple Inc.||Papst Licensing GmbH & Co., KG|
|8,504,746||IPR2016-01863||10/11/2016||Apple Inc.||Papst Licensing GmbH & Co., KG|
|6,470,399||IPR2016-01864||10/11/2016||Apple Inc.||Papst Licensing GmbH & Co., KG|
|7,804,948||IPR2017-00058||10/11/2016||Cisco Systems, Inc.||Uniloc USA, Inc. and|
Uniloc Luxembourg S.A.
|9,124,718||IPR2017-00088||10/14/2016||Facebook, Inc. and|
|9,118,693||IPR2017-00089||10/14/2016||Facebook, Inc. and|
|9,124,717||IPR2017-00092||10/14/2016||Facebook, Inc. and|
|8,892,465||IPR2017-00097||10/14/2016||Facebook, Inc. and|
|6,516,236||IPR2017-00048||10/18/2016||Rockwell Automation, Inc. and|
Rockwell Automation Technologies, Inc.
|Automation Middleware Solutions, Inc.|
|8,917,772||IPR2017-00099||10/18/2016||Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and|
Samsung Electronics America, Inc.
|Infobridge Pte. Ltd.|
|8,917,772||IPR2017-00100||10/18/2016||Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and|
Samsung ElectronicsAmerica, Inc.
|Infobridge Pte. Ltd.|
|8,654,855||IPR2017-00101||10/18/2016||Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and|
Samsung ElectronicsAmerica, Inc.
|IBEX PT Holdings Co., LTD.|
|8,654,855||IPR2017-00102||10/18/2016||Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and|
Samsung ElectronicsAmerica, Inc.
|IBEX PT Holdings Co., LTD.|
|9,444,868||IPR2017-00122||10/21/2016||Netflix, Inc.||Affinity Labs of Texas, LLC|
|9,164,506||IPR2017-00123||10/21/2016||Yuneec International Co. LTD,|
Yuneec Holding Ltd.,
Yuneec Holding Ltd.,
Shanghai Yuneec Digi-Tech Co. Ltd. and
|SZ DJI Technology Co., LTD|
|9,231,853||IPR2017-00124||10/21/2016||F5 Networks, Inc.||Radware LTD.|
|9,054,728||IPR2017-00108||10/24/2016||Oracle America, Inc.||Realtime Data LLC|
|7,334,150||IPR2017-00116||10/24/2016||Kingston Technology Company, Inc.||Polaris Innovations LTD.|
|9,345,285||IPR2017-00125||10/24/2016||Skechers USA, Inc.||Adidas AG|
|9,339,079||IPR2017-00127||10/24/2016||Skechers USA, Inc.||Adidas AG|
|9,182,027||IPR2017-00118||10/25/2016||FOX Factory Holding Corp.,|
FOX Factory, Inc.,
RFE Holding (US) Corp., and
RFE Holding (Canada) Corp.
|7,161,319||IPR2017-00126||10/25/2016||One World Technologies, Inc. d/b/a Techtronic Industries Power Equipment and|
Techtronic Industries North America, Inc.
|The Chamberlain Group, Inc.|
|8,641,525||IPR2017-00136||10/25/2016||Valve Corporation||Ironburg Inventions LTD.|
|9,089,770||IPR2017-00137||10/25/2016||Valve Corporation||Ironburg Inventions LTD.|
|8,576,389||IPR2017-00138||10/28/2016||Viavi Solutions Inc.||EXFO, Inc.|
|9,170,173||IPR2017-00139||10/28/2016||Viavi Solutions Inc.||EXFO, Inc.|
|8,079,086||IPR2017-00155||10/28/2016||FireEye, Inc.||Finjan, Inc.|
|8,225,408||IPR2017-00157||10/28/2016||FireEye, Inc.||Finjan, Inc.|
|9,280,038||PGR2017-00001||10/22/2016||Yuneec International Co. Ltd. and|
Yuneec USA Inc.
|SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. and|
DJI EUROPE B.V.
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print This Notice 1432 OG 349|
|Summary of Final Decisions Issued by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board|
SUMMARY OF FINAL DECISIONS ISSUED BY THE TRADEMARK TRIAL AND APPEAL BOARD
October 17, 2016 - October 21, 2016
|Date Issued||Type of Case(1)||Proceeding or Appn. Number||Party or Parties||TTAB Panel (2)||Issue(s)||TTAB Decision||Opposer’s or Petitioner’s mark and goods or services||Applicant’s or Respondent’s mark and goods or services||Mark and goods or services cited by Examining Attorney||Issued as Precedent of TTAB|
|10-18||EX||86162961||HM Electronics, Inc.||Zervas*
|2(f); Rule 2.52(b)(4) (mark drawing and description)||Both Refusals
|Configuration of a headset [Headsets for RF communications; headsets for use with communication radios, intercom systems, or other communications network transceivers (Class 9)]||No|
|10-19||EX||86499199||P.T. Arista Latindo||Bergsman
Affirmed as to the refused Class 5
|SENSI [adult diapers, baby diapers, and diaper insert, namely, inserts adapted for cloth adult and baby diapers and made of cloth (Class 5)]||SENSI-CARE
[protectants for prevention of skin irritation and preparations for treatment and prevention of diaper rash (Class 5)]
[body wash preparations, skin moisturizers (Class 3)] [medicated skin care preparations; pharmaceutical skin lotions; medicated diaper rash ointments and lotions (Class 5)]
|10-20||EX||86197455||Rieker Instrument Company, Inc.||Shaw
|CARS [Computer software used for capturing road data and determining safe curve speeds for automobiles; Computer hardware used for capturing telemetry and road data (Class 9)] [Software as a service featuring software for capturing road data and determining safe curve speeds for automobiles (Class 42)]||No|
|86060930||Mount Felix Holdings, LLC||Cataldo
|2(d)||Refusal Affirmed (Request for Reconsideration Denied)||IRIS NEBULA
[wines (Class 33)]
[red wine; wines (Class 33)]
(1) EX=Ex Parte Appeal; OPP=Opposition; CANC=Cancellation; CU=Concurrent Use; (SJ)=Summary Judgment; (MD)=Motion to Dismiss; (R) =Request for Reconsideration; (REM)=Decision on Remand (2) *=Opinion Writer; (D)=Dissenting Panel Member
|Top of Notices November 29, 2016||US PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE||Print Appendix 1432 OG|
|Mailing and Hand Carry Addresses for Mail to the United States Patent and Trademark Office|
MAILING AND HAND CARRY ADDRESSES FOR MAIL TO THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE MAIL TO BE DIRECTED TO THE COMMISSIONER FOR PATENTS For most correspondence (e.g., new patent applications) no mail stop is required because the processing of the correspondence is routine. If NO mail stop is included on the list below, no mail stop is required for the correspondence. See the listing under "Mail to be Directed to the Director of the Patent And Trademark Office" for additional mail stops for patent-related correspondence. Only the specified type of document should be placed in an envelope addressed to one of these special mail stops. If any documents other than the specified type identified for each special mail stop are addressed to that mail stop, they will be significantly delayed in reaching the appropriate area for which they are intended. The mail stop should generally appear as the first line in the address. Most correspondence may be submitted electronically. See the USPTO's Electronic Filing System (EFS-Web) internet page http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/index.jsp for additional information. Please address mail to be delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) as follows: Mail Stop _____ Commissioner for Patents P.O. Box 1450 Alexandria, VA 22313-1450 If no Mail Stop is indicated below, the line beginning Mail Stop should be omitted from the address. NEW: Effective September 16, 2012, the Mail Stop description for Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam is being revised and a new Mail Stop for supplemental examination requests is being added as Mail Stop Supplemental Examination. Except correspondence for Maintenance Fee payments, Deposit Account Replenishments (see 37 CFR 1.25(c)(4)), and Licensing and Review (see 37 CFR 5.1(c) and 5.2(c)), please address patent-related correspondence to be delivered by other delivery services (Federal Express (Fed Ex), UPS, DHL, Laser, Action, Purolator, etc.) as follows: United States Patent and Trademark Office Customer Service Window, Mail Stop _____ Randolph Building 401 Dulany Street Alexandria, VA 22314 Mail Stop Designations Explanation Mail Stop 12 Contributions to the Examiner Education Program. Mail Stop 313(c) Petitions under 37 CFR 1.313(c) to withdraw a patent application from issue after payment of the issue fee and any papers associated with the petition, including papers necessary for a continuing application or a request for continued examination (RCE). Mail Stop AF Amendments and other responses after final rejection (e.g., a notice of appeal (and any request for pre-appeal brief conference)), other than an appeal brief. Mail Stop Amendment Information disclosure statements, drawings, and replies to Office actions in patent applications with or without an amendment to the application or a terminal disclaimer. (Use Mail Stop AF for replies after final rejection.) Mail Stop Appeal For appeal briefs or other briefs under Brief-Patents part 41 of title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations (e.g., former 37 CFR 1.192). Mail Stop Public comments regarding patent-related Comments-Patent regulations and procedures. Mail Stop Conversion Requests under 37 CFR 1.53(c)(2) to convert a nonprovisional application to a provisional application and requests under 37 CFR 1.53(c)(3) to convert a provisional application to a nonprovisional application. Mail Stop EBC Mail for the Electronic Business Center including: Certificate Action Forms, Request for Customer Number, and Requests for Customer Number Data Change (USPTO Forms PTO-2042, PTO/SB/124A and 125A, respectively) and Customer Number Upload Spreadsheets and Cover Letters. Mail Stop Expedited Only to be used for the initial filing of Design design applications accompanied by a request for expedited examination under 37 CFR 1.155. Mail Stop Express Requests for abandonment of a patent Abandonment application pursuant to 37 CFR 1.138, including any petitions under 37 CFR 1.138(c) to expressly abandon an application to avoid publication of the application. Mail Stop Applications under 35 U.S.C. 156 for patent term Hatch-Waxman PTE extension based on regulatory review of a product subject to pre-market review by a regulating agency. This mail stop is also to be used for additional correspondence regarding the application for patent term extension under 35 U.S.C. 156. It is preferred that such initial requests be hand-carried to: Office of Patent Legal Administration Room MDW 7D55 600 Dulany Street (Madison Building) Alexandria, VA 22314 Mail Stop ILS Correspondence relating to international patent classification, exchanges and standards. Mail Stop Issue Fee All communications following the receipt of a PTOL-85, "Notice of Allowance and Fee(s) Due," and prior to the issuance of a patent should be addressed to Mail Stop Issue Fee, unless advised to the contrary. Assignments are the exception. Assignments (with cover sheets) should be faxed to 571-273-0140, electronically submitted (http://epas.uspto.gov), or submitted in a separate envelope and sent to Mail Stop Assignment Recordation Services, Director - U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as shown below. Mail Stop L&R All documents pertaining to applications subject to secrecy order pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 181, or national-security classified and required to be processed accordingly. Such papers, petitions for foreign filing license pursuant to 37 CFR 5.12(b) for which expedited handling is requested, and petitions for retroactive license under 37 CFR 5.25 may also be hand carried to Licensing and Review: Technology Center 3600, Office of the Director Room 4B41 501 Dulany Street (Knox Building) Alexandria, VA 22314 Mail Stop Missing Requests for a corrected filing receipt and Parts replies to OPAP notices such as the Notice of Omitted Items, Notice to File Corrected Application Papers, Notice of Incomplete Application, Notice to Comply with Nucleotide Sequence Requirements, and Notice to File Missing Parts of Application, and associated papers and fees. Mail Stop MPEP Submissions concerning the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure. Mail Stop Patent Ext. Applications for patent term extension or adjustment under 35 U.S.C. 154 and any communications relating thereto. This mail stop is limited to petitions for patent term extension under 35 U.S.C. 154 for applications filed between June 8, 1995 and May 29, 2000, and patent term adjustment (PTA) under 35 U.S.C. 154 for applications filed on or after May 29, 2000. For applications for patent term extension under 35 U.S.C. 156, use Mail Stop Hatch-Waxman PTE. For applications for patent term extension or adjustment under 35 U.S.C. 154 that are mailed together with the payment of the issue fee, use Mail Stop Issue Fee. Mail Stop Patent Submission of comments regarding search templates. Search Template Comments Mail Stop PCT Mail related to international applications filed under the Patent Cooperation Treaty in the international phase and in the national phase under 35 U.S.C. 371 prior to mailing of a Notification of Acceptance of Application Under 35 U.S.C. 371 and 37 CFR 1.495 (Form PCT/DO/EO/903). Mail Stop Petition Petitions to be decided by the Office of Petitions, including petitions to revive and petitions to accept late payment of issue fees or maintenance fees. Mail Stop PGPUB Correspondence regarding publication of patent applications not otherwise provided, including: requests for early publication made after filing, rescission of a non-publication request, corrected patent application publication, and refund of publication fee. Mail Stop Post In patented files: requests for changes of Issue correspondence address, powers of attorney, revocations of powers of attorney, withdrawal as attorney or agent and submissions under 37 CFR 1.501. Designation of, or changes to, a fee address should be addressed to Mail Stop M Correspondence. Requests for Certificate of Correction need no special mail stop, but should be mailed to the attention of Certificate of Correction Branch. Mail Stop RCE Requests for continued examination under 37 CFR 1.114. Mail Stop Correspondence pertaining to the reconstruction Reconstruction of lost patent files. Mail Stop Ex Parte Original requests for Ex Parte Reexamination Reexam and all subsequent correspondence other than correspondence to the Office of the Solicitor (see 37 CFR 1.1(a)(3) and 1.302(c)). Effective September 16, 2012, this mail stop is also to be used for any papers to be filed in an ex parte reexamination proceeding ordered as a result of a supplemental examination proceeding. Mail Stop Inter Original requests for Inter Partes Reexamination Partes Reexam and all subsequent correspondence other than correspondence to the Office of the Solicitor (see 37 CFR 1.1(a)(3) and 1.302(c)). Mail Stop Reissue All new and continuing reissue application filings. Mail Stop Sequence Submission of the computer readable form (CRF) for applications with sequence listings, when the CRF is not being filed with the patent application. Mail Stop Supplemental (Effective September 16, 2012). Requests for Examination Supplemental Examination, including original request papers and any other correspondence, other than correspondence to the Office of the Solicitor (see 37 CFR Secs. 1.1(a)(3) AND 1.302(c)). This mail stop is limited to original request papers and any other papers that are to be filed in a supplemental examination proceeding. For any papers to be filed in an ex parte reexamination proceeding ordered as a result of a supplemental examination proceeding, use "Mail Stop Ex Parte Reexam". Information for addressing patent-related correspondence may also be found on the USPTO's web site at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/mail.jsp. MAIL TO BE DIRECTED TO THE COMMISSIONER FOR TRADEMARKS Please address trademark-related correspondence to be delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS), except documents sent to the Assignment Services Division for recordation, requests for copies of trademark documents, and documents directed to the Madrid Processing Unit, as follows: Commissioner for Trademarks P.O. Box 1451 Alexandria, VA 22313-1451 Mail to be delivered by the USPS to the Office's Madrid Processing Unit, must be mailed to: Madrid Processing Unit 600 Dulany Street MDE-7B87 Alexandria, VA 22314-5796 Mail to be delivered by the USPS to the Office's Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Policy regarding Letters of Protest must be mailed to: Letter of Protest ATTN: Deputy Commissioner for Trademark Policy 600 Dulany Street Alexandria, VA 22314-5796 Mail to be delivered by the USPS to the Director regarding the Fastener Quality Act (FQA) must be mailed to: Director, USPTO ATTN: FQA 600 Dulany Street, MDE-10A71 Alexandria, VA 22314-5793 Mail to be delivered by the USPS to the Commissioner regarding the recordal of a Native American Tribal Insignia (NATI) must be mailed to: Native American Tribal Insignia ATTN: Commissioner for Trademarks 600 Dulany Street MDE-10A71 Alexandria, VA 22314-5793 Do NOT send any of the following via USPS certified mail or with a "signature required" option: submissions to the Madrid Processing Unit, Letters of Protest, applications for recordal of insignia under the Fastener Quality Act, notifications of Native American Tribal Insignia. Trademark-related mail to be delivered by hand or other private courier or delivery service (e.g., UPS, Federal Express) to the Trademark Operation, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, or the Office's Madrid Processing Unit, must be delivered to: Trademark Assistance Center Madison East, Concourse Level Room C 55 600 Dulany Street Alexandria, VA 22314 Information for addressing trademark-related correspondence may also be found on the USPTO's web site at http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/mail.jsp. MAIL TO BE DIRECTED TO THE DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE Please address correspondence to be directed to a mail stop identified below to be delivered by the United States Postal Service (USPS) as follows (unless otherwise instructed): Mail Stop _____ Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office P.O. Box 1450 Alexandria, VA 22313-1450 Mail Stop Designations Explanation Mail Stop 3 Mail for the Office of Personnel from NFC. Mail Stop 6 Mail for the Office of Procurement. Mail Stop 8 All papers for the Office of the Solicitor except communications relating to pending litigation and disciplinary proceedings; papers relating to pending litigation in court cases shall be mailed only to Office of the Solicitor, P.O. Box 15667, Arlington, VA 22215 and papers related to pending disciplinary proceedings before the Administrative Law Judge or the Director shall be mailed only to the Office of the Solicitor, P.O. Box 16116, Arlington, VA 22215. Mail Stop 11 Mail for the Electronic Ordering Service (EOS). Mail Stop 13 Mail for the Employee and Labor Relations Division. Mail Stop 16 Mail related to refund requests, other than requests for refund of a patent application publication fee. Such requests should be directed to Mail Stop PGPub. Mail Stop 17 Invoices directed to the Office of Finance. Mail Stop 24 Mail for the Inventor's Assistance Program, including complaints about Invention Promoters. Mail Stop 171 Vacancy Announcement Applications. Mail Stop Assignment All assignment documents, security interests, Recordation Services and other documents to be recorded in the Assignment records. Note that documents with cover sheets that are faxed to 571-273-0140 or submitted electronically (http://epas.uspto.gov) are processed much more quickly than those submitted by mail. Mail Stop Document All requests for certified or uncertified Services copies of patent or trademark documents. Mail Stop EEO Mail for the Office of Civil Rights. Mail Stop External Mail for the Office of External Affairs. Affairs Mail Stop Interference Communications relating to interferences and applications and patents involved in interference. Mail Stop M Mail to designate or change a fee Correspondence address, or other correspondence related to maintenance fees, except payments of maintenance fees in patents. See below for the address for maintenance fee payments. Mail Stop OED Mail for the Office of Enrollment and Discipline. Maintenance Fee Payments Unless submitted electronically over the Internet at www.uspto.gov, payments of maintenance fees in patents using the United States Postal Service, hand-delivery and delivery by private courier (e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.) should be mailed to: Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Attn: Maintenance Fees 2051 Jamieson Avenue, Suite 300 Alexandria, Virginia 22314 Deposit Account Replenishments Payments to replenish deposit accounts using the United States Postal Service, hand-delivery and delivery by private courier (e.g., FedEx, UPS, etc.) should be made to: Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Attn: Deposit Accounts 2051 Jamieson Avenue, Suite 300 Alexandria, VA 22314 Information about deposit account replenishments may also be found on the USPTO's website at http://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/fees-and-payment/deposit-accounts/deposit-account-replenishment-options
|Reference Collections of U.S. Patents Available for Public Use in Patent and Trademark Resource Centers|
Reference Collections of U.S. Patents Available for Public Use in Patent and Trademark Resource Centers The following libraries, designated as Patent and Trademark Resource Centers (PTRCs), provide public access to patent and trademark information received from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This information includes all issued patents, all registered trademarks, the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, search tools such as the Cassis CD-ROM suite of products and supplemental information in a variety of formats including online, optical disc, microfilm and paper. Each PTRC also offers access to USPTO resources on the Internet and to PubWEST (Web based examiner search tool), a system used by patent examiners that is not available on the Internet. Staff assistance and training is provided in the use of this information. All information is available free of charge. However, there may be charges associated with the use of photocopying and related services. Hours of service to the public vary, and anyone contemplating use of these collections at a particular library is urged to contact that library in advance about its services and hours to avoid inconvenience. State Name of Library Telephone Contact Alabama Auburn University Libraries (334) 844-1737 Birmingham Public Library (205) 226-3620 Alaska Fairbanks: Keith B. Mather Library, Geophysical Institute, University of Alaska, Fairbanks (907) 474-2636 Arizona Phoenix, Arizona State Library of Arizona Arizona State Library Archives and Public Records (602) 926-3870 Arkansas Little Rock: Arkansas State Library (501) 682-2053 California Los Angeles Public Library (213) 228-7220 Riverside: University of California, Riverside, Orbach Science Library (951) 827-3316 Sacramento: California State Library (916) 654-0261 San Diego Public Library (619) 236-5800 San Francisco Public Library (415) 557-4400 Sunnyvale Public Library (408) 730-7300 San Jose: San Jose Public Library, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (408) 808-2000 Colorado Denver Public Library (720) 865-1363 Connecticut Fairfield: Ryan-Matura Library Sacred Heart University (203) 371-7726 Delaware Newark: University of Delaware Library (302) 831-2965 Dist. of Columbia Washington: Howard University Libraries (202) 806-7252 Florida Fort Lauderdale: Broward County Main Library (954) 357-7444 Miami-Dade Public Library (305) 375-2665 Orlando: University of Central Florida Libraries (407) 823-2562 Georgia Atlanta: Library and Information Center, Georgia Institute of Technology (404) 385-7185 Hawaii Honolulu: Hawaii State Library (808) 586-3477 Illinois Chicago Public Library (312) 747-4450 Macomb: Western Illinois University Libraries (309) 298-2722 Indiana Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (317) 269-1741 West Lafayette Siegesmund Engineering Library, Purdue University (765) 494-2872 Iowa Davenport: Davenport Public Library (563) 326-7832 Kansas Wichita: Ablah Library, Wichita State University 1 (800) 572-8368 Kentucky Louisville Free Public Library (502) 574-1611 W. Frank Steely Library Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, Kentucky (859) 572-5457 Louisiana Baton Rouge: Troy H. Middleton Library, Louisiana State University (225) 388-8875 Maine Orono: Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine (207) 581-1678 Maryland College Park: Engineering and Physical Sciences Library, University of Maryland (301) 405-9157 Massachusetts Amherst: Physical Sciences Library, University of Massachusetts (413) 545-2765 Boston Public Library (617) 536-5400 Ext. 4256 Michigan Ann Arbor: Art, Architecture & Engineering Library, University of Michigan (734) 647-5735 Big Rapids: Ferris Library for Information, Technology & Education, Ferris State University (231) 592-3602 Detroit: Public Library (313) 481-1391 Michigan Technological University, Van Pelt and Opie Library, Houghton (906) 487-2500 Minnesota Hennepin County Library Minneapolis Central Library (612) 543-8000 Mississippi Jackson: Mississippi Library Commission (601) 432-4111 Missouri Kansas City: Linda Hall Library (816) 363-4600 Ext. 724 St. Louis Public Library (314) 352-2900 Montana Butte: Montana Tech Library of the University of Montana (406) 496-4281 Nebraska Lincoln: Engineering Library, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (402) 472-3411 New Hampshire Concord: University of New Hampshire School of Law (603) 513-5130 Nevada Reno: University of Nevada, Reno, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center (775) 784-6500 Ext. 257 New Jersey Newark Public Library (973) 733-7779 Piscataway: Library of Science and Medicine, Rutgers University (732) 445-2895 New Mexico Las Cruces: New Mexico State University (575) 646-5792 New York Albany: New York State Library (518) 474-5355 Buffalo and Erie County Public Library (716) 858-7101 Rochester Public Library (716) 428-8110 New York: New York Public Library, Science Industry & Business Library (212) 592-7000 North Carolina J. Murrey Atkins Library, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (704) 687-0494 North Dakota Grand Forks: Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota (701) 777-4629 Ohio Akron - Summit County Public (330) 643-9075 Library Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Public Library of (513) 369-6932 Cleveland Public Library (216) 623-2870 Dayton: Paul Laurence Dunbar Library, Wright State University (937) 775-3521 Toledo/Lucas County Public Library (419) 259-5209 Oklahoma Stillwater: Oklahoma State University Edmon Low Library (405) 744-6546 Pennsylvania Philadelphia, The Free Library of (215) 686-5394 Pittsburgh, Carnegie Library of (412) 622-3138 University Park: PAMS Library, Pennsylvania State University (814) 865-7617 Puerto Rico Bayamon: Learning Resources Center, University of Puerto Rico (787) 993-0000 Ext. 3222 Mayaquez General Library, University of Puerto Rico (787) 832-4040 Ext. 2023 Bayamon, Learning Resources Center, University of Puerto Rico (787) 786-5225 Rhode Island Providence Public Library (401) 455-8027 South Carolina Clemson University Libraries (864) 656-5168 South Dakota Rapid City: Devereaux Library, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (605) 394-1275 Tennessee Nashville: Stevenson Science and Engineering Library, Vanderbilt University (615) 322-2717 Texas Austin: McKinney Engineering Library, University of Texas at Austin (512) 495-4511 College Station: West Campus Library, Texas A & M University (979) 845-2111 Dallas Public Library (214) 670-1468 Houston: The Fondren Library, Rice University (713) 348-5483 Lubbock: Texas Tech University (806) 742-2282 San Antonio Public Library (210) 207-2500 Utah Salt Lake City: Marriott Library, University of Utah (801) 581-8394 Vermont Burlington: Bailey/Howe Library, University of Vermont (802) 656-2542 Washington Seattle: Engineering Library, University of Washington (206) 543-0740 West Virginia Morgantown: Evansdale Library, West Virginia University (304) 293-4695 Wisconsin Wendt Commons Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison (608) 262-0696 Milwaukee Public Library (414) 286-3051 Wyoming Cheyenne: Wyoming State Library (307) 777-7281
|Patent Technology Centers|
|PATENT TECHNOLOGY CENTERS|
|AVERAGE FILING DATE OF APPLICATIONS RECEIVING A FIRST OFFICE ACTION IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS1|
|GAU||Avg Filing Date|
|1600||BIOTECHNOLOGY, AND ORGANIC CHEMISTRY|
|1700||CHEMICAL AND MATERIALS ENGINEERING AND DESIGNS|
|2100||COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE AND SOFTWARE|
|2400||NETWORKING, MULTIPLEXING, CABLE AND SECURITY|
|2800||SEMICONDUCTORS/MEMORY, CIRCUITS/MEASURING AND TESTING, OPTICS/PHOTOCOPYING|
|3600||TRANSPORTATION, CONSTRUCTION, ELECTRONIC COMMERCE, AGRICULTURE, NATIONAL SECURITY AND LICENSE AND REVIEW|
|3700||MECHANICAL ENGINEERING, MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTS|
|1 Report last updated on 09-30-2016.|